Chelsea face a difficult task when they travel to Istanbul to encounter Galatasaray on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie (19:45 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Galatasaray come into the tie on the back of a 1-0 win at home to local rivals Besiktas on Saturday and are second in the Turkish Super Lig, three points shy of leaders Fenerbache, with 44 points from 12 wins, eight draws and two defeats.
The reigning Turkish champions progressed to the last 16 courtesy of a 1-0 victory at home to Juventus in snowy conditions on the final match day of Group B. The win saw them leapfrog the Italians into second in the group with seven points from two wins, one draw and three defeats. They will be looking to emulate their run to the quarter finals last season.
Former Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini took over in late September after the controversial sacking of Fatih Terim. Following a shaky start, he has guided the club to just one defeat in their last 19 matches in all competitions. They have been particularly strong at home, winning 13 and drawing one of his 14 matches at the helm.
Galatasaray have some excellent players in their ranks, including former Chelsea frontman Didier Drogba and Dutch international midfielder Wesley Sneijder, a Champions League winner with Inter Milan in 2010. Turkish internationals Semih Kaya, Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz form the spine of the side. They are strong in defence with good attacking options.
Mancini will definitely be without long-term injury absentees Aydin Yilmaz (fractured foot) and Jeffrey Bruma (knee), but otherwise looks to have a full squad at his disposal.
Chelsea arrive in Turkey on the back of a solid 1-0 victory at home to Everton on Saturday. They head the Premier League table, one point clear of second placed Arsenal, with 60 points from 18 wins, six draws and three defeats.
The Blues qualified for the knockout stages by winning Group E with four wins and two defeats. They were at their most impressive in commanding victories home and away to second place finishers Schalke. With two-time Champions League winner Jose Mourinho in their dugout they will be hopeful of going far in this year’s competition.
Chelsea’s win over Everton was typical of their excellent form over the festive period and into the new year, built, as it was, on a strong defensive performance. Mourinho’s side have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 14 matches in all competitions. With good defensive organisation and a dedicated holder in front of the back four, Chelsea are very difficult to break down.
The lack of a truly prolific striker has at times seen the Blues struggle to break down obdurate opposition defences, but the patchy scoring of strikers Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o, combined with the output of attacking midfielders Eden Hazard and Oscar (pictured) and a good contribution from defence and midfield has otherwise proved sufficient.
Marco Van Ginkel (knee) is Chelsea’s only confirmed injury absentee for Wednesday’s match, but David Luiz (muscle), Jon Obi Mikel (knock) and Oscar (knock) are all doubtful. January signings Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic are cup-tied after appearing in the competition for former clubs Basel and Benfica earlier this season.
Galatasaray v Chelsea Betting Tips
These sides met in the group stage of the 1999-2000 Champions League, with Chelsea winning home and away, including a 5-0 win in Istanbul. Galatasaray have won two, drawn two and lost two in their last six Champions League matches against English clubs, while Chelsea have won four and lost two in their last six against Turkish opposition.
Galatasaray have been supreme at home since Mancini took over and with a raucous crowd behind them and experienced and good quality players in key areas of the pitch, will be confident of giving Chelsea a good match. An element of caution is to be expected given the importance of not conceding an away goal, but they will strive to take victory.
Chelsea’s priority will be to avoid taking a deficit into the second leg and with that in mind they are likely to set up quite defensively. They won away to nil twice during the group stage and have done so three times in their last five league matches away from Stamford Bridge. An away goal would be a gratefully received bonus.
- Back the draw @ 5/2 with Bet365, BetVictor or Paddy Power.
- Chelsea have a superb defensive record over the last couple of months and in Mancini, Mourinho will face a coach who operates with similar caution. We do not expect to see a host of chances or goals and therefore suggest backing under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 8/11 with SkyBet or Stan James.