By Luke Williams
Galatasaray SK will look to increase their grip on a place in the top two of Group H when they meet Belgian outfit Club Brugge KV in an intriguing UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday night.
Brugge, competing in the Champions League for the first time in ten years, have garnered just one point from their first two games - two less than their Turkish opponents. However they know that an unexpected victory in the Ali Sami Yen stadium will propel them back into contention for a place in the second group stage.
Such a prospect is not as remote as it may sound as Galatasaray's traditionally formidable home record has been sullied somewhat in the last year by back-to-back Champions League defeats, both at the hands of FC Barcelona. A third home loss in succession would represent a Champions League first for the Istanbul club.
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim has admitted that the high stakes will necessitate a balanced tactical approach. "We will play attacking football but will also be cautious while we are on the attack," he said. "We have watched Brugge on video. They play differently in Champions League matches. If they play like they did against Barcelona then it will not be hard for us but if they reorganise things will be different."
A weekend victory against Istanbulspor will have filled Galatasaray with confidence after last week's 2-0 reverse against Barcelona - a result whose importance Terim was keen to play down. "We lost, but the important thing is to qualify for the second phase," he said.
Galatasaray's Berkant Göktan and loan signing Mehmet Polat will miss the match through injury and Mexican defender Sergio Almaguer is doubtful. Meanwhile Brugge coach Trond Sollied looks set to reshuffle his side as his hopes of reaching the second group stage face a potentially fatal test. "There are four games left and I think we owe our opponents no respect," he said. "We can have a big impact in this group if we play our own game."
Far from ideal preparation
Brugge's preparation has been far from ideal. A draw at the weekend against R. Antwerp FC ended their 100 per cent league record for 2002/03, and the news that Slovakian defender Marek Spilár will be out for several weeks is a further blow. Sollied, therefore, looks set to dispense with his usual 4-3-3 formation and add an extra defender, possibly by moving Timmy Simons back from midfield, with Alin Stoica coming into the side. "We may place more players behind the ball," Sollied said. "Galatasaray have to win at home and we must go for one point."
Whether this defensive approach will pay dividends is arguable, although Brugge do have one historical omen in their favour - the only previous time Galatasaray faced Belgian opposition they were beaten 10-2 on aggregate by RSC Anderlecht.
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