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Story so far: Galatasaray AŞ

Published: Friday 20 December 2013, 11.58CET
Galatasaray AŞ's group stage campaign was anything but quiet – it started with a 6-1 defeat, took in a change of coach and finished with a win that was two days in the making.
by Türker Tozar
from Istanbul

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Published: Friday 20 December 2013, 11.58CET

Story so far: Galatasaray AŞ

Galatasaray AŞ's group stage campaign was anything but quiet – it started with a 6-1 defeat, took in a change of coach and finished with a win that was two days in the making.

Galatasaray AŞ started their 2013/14 UEFA Champions League campaign with high hopes after reaching last season's quarter-finals. However, a heavy defeat on matchday one resulted in a change in the dugout, Roberto Mancini replacing Fatih Terim at the helm. It was not plain sailing thereafter, but the Turkish titleholders did enough.

Story so far
A 6-1 loss to Real Madrid CF in mid-September put Galatasaray on the back foot from the off. Mancini was appointed on 30 September, giving him just two days to prepare for the matchday two trip to Juventus. However, it proved sufficient, the visitors earning a 2-2 draw in Turin courtesy of Umut Bulut's 88th-minute equaliser. A 3-1 home win against FC København followed, but defeats in the Danish and Spanish capitals halted momentum.

Mancini responded by suggesting his players "need to work on defence three times a day" – and it worked. Galatasaray had to beat the Bianconeri at home on matchday six, Wesley Sneijder eventually earning them all three points.

Pivotal moment
Cimbom's group stage campaign was not an easy one. Leaving everything late seems to be a trait of all Turkish sides and, sure enough, Galatasaray's qualification this time around was no different. Indeed, they even had to wait an extra day after the original tie against Juventus was called off due to heavy snowfall in Istanbul. Juve, blunted by the absence of Andrea Pirlo, could not impose their game and Galatasaray duly capitalised when Sneijder latched on to Didier Drogba's flick-on and fired past Gianluigi Buffon five minutes from time.

Key player: Didier Drogba
The Ivory Coast striker's vast experience and invaluable leadership qualities have been a crucial element of this side. He contributed two goals and three assists – most notably that superb header to Sneijder on matchday six – and continues to defy his advancing years. Aged 35, there are reports that he could continue for two more years.

©Getty Images

Bruma has shown potential

Rising star: Bruma
A €10m acquisition from Sporting Clube de Portugal, the 19-year-old started four of Galatasaray's group stage games. Though he lacks experience at the top level and his finishing can be improved, Bruma's raw pace and technique have already been evident. He has the potential to become an influential figure for Galatasaray.

Number: 14
Galatasaray were fragile at the back throughout the group stage. Indeed, the 14 goals they conceded is more than any other side that qualified. They managed only one clean sheet, though that came when it mattered – against Juve on matchday six.

Quote
"The Italian press thought Galatasaray and København would be a piece of cake [for Juventus]. However, we turned out to be a bitter caramel and they couldn't swallow us."
Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo expresses his views on Italian media.

Next challenge: Chelsea FC
(Home: 26 February, away: 18 March)
Mancini's men will take on the UEFA Europa League holders in the last 16. Although the Premier League side topped Group E, the fact they lost both fixtures against FC Basel 1893 should provide Galatasaray with hope. Eden Hazard, Oscar and André Schürrle have all impressed, while the Blues' goals have been spread across their forwards, with Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba chipping in with two apiece.

Last updated: 20/12/13 14.08CET

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