Chelsea still have work to do against Galatasaray in Champions League
Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes were dented by Aston Villa on Saturday and getting through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League is by no means a foregone conclusion either as they welcome Galatasaray and famous old boy Didier Drogba to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
Coral go 2/5 Chelsea, 13/2 Galatasaray (7/2 the draw after 90 minutes) and though the Blues must be favourites to go through after drawing 1-1 in Istanbul in the first leg, I anticipate a really close encounter and an outcome in doubt until the final whistle blows.
Galatasaray have never beaten an English side away in European competition and their domestic form this season doesn’t offer great encouragement that they might now do so at the ninth attempt – too many draws (ten from 25 games) have damaged hopes of a 20th Turkish title.
But you only need to go back 12 months to see what a dangerous side they can be. At the very same stage of this competition they drew 1-1 at home to Schalke before turning it around 3-2 in the away leg.
They also then gave Real Madrid the shock of their lives in the quarter-finals, scoring three times in a second half onslaught in Istanbul before Cristiano Ronaldo eventually settled the tie in the Spanish heavyweight’s favour, 5-3 on aggregate.
Real were managed then by Jose Mourinho so the Chelsea boss will know not to count his chickens, but he could have done without that weekend reversal in the midlands, not fatal in itself, but damaging to momentum and morale.
Galatasaray’s extra day to recover from League exertions (they drew 0-0 with mid-table opposition last Friday) is, according to Mourinho, another tick in the visitors’ box.
But really, it wouldn’t have come to this if Chelsea had taken their chances after Fernando Torres had given them an early lead in Istanbul before Aurelien Chedjou took advantage of some sloppy marking at a corner to equalise.
Drogba is sure of a rousing reception on his return to a ground where he spent eight great years, but the Chelsea defence will be careful not to give the still-lethal Ivorian (100/30 to score) a sniff of a chance. Burak Yilmaz (7/2) and Wesley Sneijder (5/1) are threats, too – all three are averaging close to a goal every other game this season.
With Manchester United in great danger of being eliminated on Wednesday, Chelsea might be flying the flag for England on their own come Friday’s draw, but they need to get through these nervous 90 minutes, perhaps even longer
Chelsea and Mourinho will probably find a way, but a scramble, perhaps 1-0 (13/2), seems far more likely than a command performance.