"Chelsea have an 80% chance of going through," declared Galatasaray AŞ coach Roberto Mancini as he addressed media inquisitors in the build-up to their round of 16 opener in Istanbul.
Whether the Italian tactician was playing mind games remains to be seen, but it certainly caused a stir, even taking his translator by surprise. Far from approaching the match with trepidation, however, Mancini fielded a positive lineup comprising four attack-minded players. But he soon realised the error of his ways, replacing Izet Hajrovic with holding midfielder Yekta Kurtuluş after succumbing to a Fernando Torres goal nine minutes in.
The substitution allowed the Turkish side to wrest back the initiative and snatch a draw courtesy of Aurélien Chedjou's 65th-minute leveller, keeping alive their hopes for Tuesday's London decider. However, given the fact Chelsea FC have lost just twice at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Champions League since 2003, Galatasaray will be under no illusions about the size of the challenge facing them.
So, how should the visitors go about their task? In my opinion, they must pack the midfield to counteract the Blues' attacking riches. I suspect Yekta will be handed a starting berth alongside Felipe Melo and Selçuk İnan, whose combative style will be crucial in thwarting the likes of Eden Hazard.
Utilising the flanks and making the most of set pieces will also be key for Galatasaray, with dead-ball specialist Wesley Sneijder enjoying a fine season. In defence, Brazilian left-back Alex Telles has made a positive impression since joining from Grêmio FBPA, while Emmanuel Eboué's quality on the ball is enduring.
Didier Drogba also needs to stand up and be counted on his Chelsea homecoming. Obviously José Mourinho knows him well and set up his team in such a way to contain the Ivorian powerhouse in the first leg. This time, Drogba must come to the fore along with Umut Bulut, famed as the 'Goalscorer on duty' for his ability to come off the bench and score.
Above all, patience is paramount for Mancini's men, with the hosts yet to concede a first-half goal in this term's competition. They cannot afford to let their heads drop should they fall behind early either. Furthermore, Cimbom have garnered a reputation for playing an attacking brand of football – all of their European triumphs have been built on this mentality. Mancini therefore has to instruct his players to keep the faith in honour of the famous Turkish saying: "Believing is halfway to achieving."
The opinions expressed here are the writer's own and not those of UEFA.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.