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Barcelona look to maintain run

Published: Wednesday 5 December 2001, 10.58CET
FC Barcelona will be hoping to maintain their brilliant start to the UEFA Champions League second group stage against Galatasaray SK tonight.

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Goals scored23
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Published: Wednesday 5 December 2001, 10.58CET

Barcelona look to maintain run

FC Barcelona will be hoping to maintain their brilliant start to the UEFA Champions League second group stage against Galatasaray SK tonight.

Another home game against Turkish opposition on Wednesday gives FC Barcelona the chance to rediscover the form that saw them start the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League with a 3-1 away win over Liverpool FC.

Rivaldo free-kick
No doubt they would settle for the same outcome against Galatasaray SK as when Fenerbahçe SK were the visitors at the end of the first group stage, Rivaldo's free-kick in injury time settling the issue.

Late goal woe
Talk of late goals however will remind Galatasaray of their disappointment two weeks ago when AS Roma scored a 92nd-minute equaliser that has increased the need for the 2000 UEFA Cup winners to pick up points on their travels.

Tough hurdle
However Matchday Eight represents a tough hurdle as Barcelona have worked hard to put behind them the memory of last season's poor showing in this competition, winning seven of their last eight Champions League matches or nine out of ten if you take into account their two qualifying games against TS Wisla Kraków.

Successive defeats
This time round Carles Rexach's side are showing much better form on the European stage than in the Primera División. Following their thrilling success at Anfield they have suffered successive defeats and slipped to eighth in the league table with only six wins in 15 matches. They first entertained Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou and lost 2-1, Rivaldo scoring the only goal. Last Saturday, Barcelona lost 2-0 away to Deportivo Alavés, a result which established the Vitoria club as league leaders.

Puyol back
Carles Puyol is available again having missed Matchday Seven through suspension. Luís Enrique and Sergi are within another yellow card of a one-match suspension but both are injured. Luís Enrique suffered a recurrence of his right thigh muscle injury and will not reappear this year while Sergi is closer to a return following a similar injury. Geovanni, with a calf muscle injury, is the other player on the injury list.

Suat milestone
Galatasaray have played three domestic fixtures since their last European action, winning two and losing the other. The victories came by 2-0 over Samsunspor with Sergen Yalçin scoring twice in the first half, the second from the penalty spot. The game marked Suat Kaya's 300th appearance in the Turkish first division.

Harshly critical
Last Friday Mircea Lucescu's side won the local derby with Istanbulspor AS 4-1 with Bülent Akin, Arif Erdem (two) and Serkan Aykut on the scoresheet. Nevertheless Galatasaray were harshly critical of themselves afterwards because against opposition reduced to nine men after 33 minutes the performance was considered below-par.

Coach upset
Lucescu commented: "I am upset with my players. After Istanbulspor were reduced to nine, each of the players stopped thinking about the team, played for himself and tried to score on his own. We could not play well with that attitude. I will try in the next days to brief them but I have worries for the match against Barcelona. We must not repeat these mistakes in Spain."

Hasan injury
Some players blamed Hasan Sas and on the way to the showers he punched a glass door and suffered a cut hand, necessitating an operation that took more than an hour. He is likely to be out until the new year but would have missed this game in any case because of suspension.

Bülent sets record
One positive feature from the game was the new record set by Bülent Korkmaz who has now made 343 appearances as captain of the team, one more than previous record-holder Cuneyt Tanman. Murat Sozkesen, a striker formerly with Bursaspor and one of Galatasaray's two new signings, played in this game. 
Midfielder João Batista, a Brazilian formerly with Gaziantepspor is the other newcomer. He cannot participate in the Champions League as he has already competed in the UEFA Cup.

Surprise defeat
The defeat came in a third round cup match away to Erzurumspor, a fixture that brought a golden goal-victory for the second division side and an assessment from Lucescu that his young players were not of sufficient quality to represent the club.

Last updated: 15/11/12 20.41CET