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By Kadira Malkoc
Galatasaray SK's hopes of a smooth passage to the UEFA Champions League second group stage were undone when they lost 3-1 at Club Brugge KV last week - a result which makes victory at home to FC Lokomotiv Moskva on Tuesday absolutely crucial.
Galatasaray, whose only Group H win to date came against Lokomotiv in Moscow, have four points - one behind Brugge in third place with two games to play. The Russians are in an even more desperate position, however. Last week's 1-0 defeat at FC Barcelona left them rock bottom with just one point, gained from a goalless draw in Bruges on Matchday Two.
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim hopes the home supporters at the Ali Sami Yen stadium will spur his players on to victory. "Our fans are going to be a huge factor for us in tomorrow's match," he said. "Sometimes we make mistakes and may not play good football but they back us every time."
'Have to be ready'
Terim, who must take his team to group winners Barcelona for their final Group H game, added: "We did not expect this match would be that important but you have to be ready for every situation in football. We are planning to concentrate fully on the upcoming match and then wait and see for our last match."
If defeat in Belgium was a severe disappointment, Terim at least saw his players respond with a 2-1 victory over Altay GK at the weekend which preserved their place at the top of the Turkish Super League. He was more than satisfied with his side's performance at the weekend and as such is expected to make few changes against Lokomotiv. Brazilian midfielder João Batista is fit after missing both the Brugge and Altay matches, although Mohamed Sarr remains sidelined.
Lokomotiv, meanwhile, were allowed to postpone their weekend's fixture against FC Zenit St. Petersburg to give them extra time to prepare to face Galatasaray. Yuri Semin's side are currently second in the Premier-Liga, two points behind PFC CSKA Moskva, albeit with a game at hand.
Lokomotiv and Russia defender Gennady Nizhegorodov will be back in the starting lineup after missing the Barcelona trip with a facial injury. Jacob Lekgetho also returns after a suspension but midfield players Marat Izmailov and Narvik Sirkhaev remain unavailable.
"I draw optimism from the fact that our fate is still in our hands," said Semin. "If we win the remaining two games, we can even be second. However, it will be an uphill task for us to beat both Brugge and Galatasaray. But we will do all we can to take our chance. I think Brugge are our main competitors for second place. Brugge will play Barça at home and Galatasaray have still to play Barcelona away."
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