Lions ( Galatasaray ) aim for repeat victory over Benfica in CL Lisbon leg
The Lions of Galatasaray are looking to put Benfica in its place a second time as they head to Lisbon for match day four in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday.
After a grim start to its Champions League campaign, Galatasaray won its first match against the Portuguese champion at home, shocking Benfica with a 2-1 comeback victory. But that was at Türk Telekom Arena; the Lions now will be tested at the Stadium of Light and Benfica may be looking to exact revenge.
And it is not just pride at stake. Galatasaray’s win and an earlier 2-2 draw with FC Astana leave the club in third place with four points. As Benfica has just six, a second loss would allow the Lions to leapfrog them into second. Atletico Madrid, who will play Astana on Tuesday, also has six points, having lost to Benfica and defeated Galatasaray in earlier encounters.
Benfica will not be easy meat, but a Galatasaray victory on Tuesday is not unprecedented. The Lions are the only Turkish team to have ever defeated Benfica on their home turf, but that was a while ago, in the UEFA Cup group stage in 2008. In 2013, it was Burak Yılmaz who helped Galatasaray win 2-1 in its only other match in Portugal, which was against Braga.
Galatasaray is coming into the match from a sound beating of Eskişehirspor last week. “Burak scored two goals and that made us happy. Burak coming back healthy before the Benfica match has given us hope,” coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu told reporters afterward.
Aside from Burak, who occupies an important place on the roster and starting XI, Hamzaoğlu will likely depend on midfielder Selçuk İnan and Germany striker Lukas Podolski. However, Benfica will be especially wary of these two after they scored the club’s goals the last match. Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder is always another dangerous part of the Lions team.
Galatasaray is lucky in the injuries department, as only aging Turkey midfielder Hamit Altıntop and French midfielder Lionel Carole have been missing training.
Benfica coach Rui Vitoria will be missing three players on Tuesday as forward Nuno Santos and defender Nelson Semedo are out with knee injuries and midfielder Andreas Samaris is suspended for one match.
Midfielder Nicolas Gaitan, who scored in İstanbul, as well as the Portuguese side’s scoring forwards Kostas Mitroglou and Gonçalo Guedes are fit and ready to give Galatasaray’s defense and keeper Fernando Muslera trouble. Benfica also won its most recent domestic fixture against Tondela 4-0.
With one draw and one loss, Galatasaray’s chances seemed slim before its victory over Benfica, and while they are not in the clear yet, the Lions now have some amount of hope.
“After winning the match here, I think we have a good shot in the group. There always was a chance, but because we did not manage to get off to a good start, we made it difficult,” Hamzaoğlu said.
“Now, we will play both Benfica and Atletico Madrid away. If we can win both of these matches, we want to come back with wins. We are Galatasaray and we are going to play for victory against both Benfica and Atletico Madrid,” he added.
Indeed victories are imperative for Galatasaray. Dropping points against newcomer Astana did not help the Turkish champion’s designs on advancing past the group stage. It is certainly not impossible, but it will be difficult for the Turkish side.
Serbia’s Milorad Mazic will officiate the match, which kicks off at the Stadium of Light at 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday, and he will be assisted on the sidelines by Milovan Ristic and Dalibor Djurdjevic.
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