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Real Sociedad de Fútbol have a chance to forget their disappointing domestic form and move through to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they face Galatasaray SK on Wednesday.
Raynald Denoueix's side need a point to secure second place in Group D behind Juventus FC, but would overhaul the Italian champions at the head of the standings should they defeat Galatasaray and Juve lose to Olympiacos CFP in Turin.
However, Real have been unable to reproduce their scintillating form of last season – when they only lost out on the Primera División title to Real Madrid CF on the final day – and currently lie in the Spanish relegation zone having amassed 15 points from 15 league games to date.
'Thinking about Galatasaray'
However, club captain Agustín Aranzabal is hoping the fans at the Anoeta will put the league disappointments – including Saturday's 4-0 home defeat by Real Betis Balompié – behind them and get behind their side. "What happened on Saturday happened in part because we were thinking about Galatasaray," said the defender.
'Public are with us'
"We knew that the public were with us and I think we will be supported on Wednesday night," Aranzabal said. "We have to give them a good feeling from the start so they are happy in a game that is so important for all of us."
However, Real have not scored in their last four home matches, and are without Darko Kovacevic through suspension after the striker was sent off in the 2-2 draw against Olympiacos on Matchday 5. Javier De Pedro and Lionel Potillon are back in training after a back injury and a torn thigh muscle respectively, but goalkeeper Sander Westerveld aggravated a sprained right ankle against Betis and is doubtful.
Galatasaray defender Frank de Boer believes Kovacevic will be a big loss to the home side. "I think it is better for us because he is a reference point in their system," the Dutch defender said. "He is very important for the team and for Nihat [Kahveci], and so I think it's good he's not there."
Galatasaray, for whom Ayham Akman is still suspended, currently lie in third place, two points behind the Spanish side, and will progress at Real's expense with victory at the Anoeta. Fatih Terim's side are buoyed by last week's 2-0 win against Juventus in Dortmund after the game was postponed and moved from Istanbul for security reasons.
De Boer believes the victory has given Galatasaray the momentum they need. "We have a very special game here," he said. "
It is a big final for both teams. We still have it in our hands to qualify and I am really looking forward to the game. We showed against Juventus what we can do and I think it has given us confidence. It won't be easy, but I think we can qualify for the next round."
Nihat was philosophical about the way the group has unfolded. "When the draw was made, I said that I hoped both of us could go through," said Real's Turkish striker. "Only one of us can now, and that is a shame for me."
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