Burak Ylmaz / PHOTO: EFE

After analyzing Milan and Arsenal, it’s time to focus on Turkey, where the reigning champions of the league, Galatasaray, await FC Barcelona. The Turks had an irregular group stage where they won their last three matches to make it to the knock-out round. In the last two games between Catalans and Turks, the Blaugrana won 0-2 in Turkey and 3-1 at the Camp Nou.

Last 16 berth sealed in the last game

Galatasaray didn’t have an easy start in the Champions League. They were defeated by Manchester United (1-0), lost at home to Braga (0-2) and drew at home to Cluj (1-1). It wasn’t until the second go around that they managed turn the situation around. Despite conceding early in their last match, against Braga, they fought back to seal a spot in the knock-out round (1-2).

Ten years since Barça’s last match against Galatasaray

We have to go back to the 2002/2003 season to find the last match between the Blaugrana and the Turkish team. The two teams met in the first group stage of the competition (Champions League’s old format). The Blaugrana won their match away to Galatasaray thanks to goals from Kluivert and Luis Enrique (0-2). In the return let, when Galatasaray visited the Camp Nou, Barça won by 3-1. In addition, in the 1993/94 edition of the European Cup, Barça tied 0-0 and won 3-0 at the Camp Nou, in 1994/95 both teams won 2-1 at home and in 2001/02 Barça drew with Galatasaray 2-2 and won away to the Turkish team 0-1.

Co-leaders of the Turkish league with a game in hand

The reigning champions of the Turkish league are on track to win back-to-back titles. Galatasaray sit atop of the league standings with 26 points, level with Antalyaspor and Besiktas – both teams have played one more game than Galatasaray. They have claimed seven victories, five draws and conceded only two defeats this season.

A team with a lot of experience

Galatasaray have a team full of veteran players that have a lot of experience in European competitions. Muslera, who signed from Lazio, is Galatasaray’s keeper. The veterans Cris, who signed from Olympique Lyon, Ujfalusi, ex-Atlético Madrid, and Eboué, ex-Arsenal, are the three defensive pillars for the Turkish team. On the other end of the pitch we find Felipe Melo, Milan Baros and two ex-La Liga players like Albert Riera and Hamit Altintop. That’s a lot of experience packed into an 11-man side, and perhaps experience is Galatasaray’s best weapon in the Champions League.

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