By DAN KARELL
After conquering Manchester United in the round of 16, Real Madrid can’t afford a let down when they welcome Galatasaray to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday in Champions League quarter-final action.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored again last Saturday, his 44th goal this season in 44 matches for Real Madrid this season, but the Spanish club will have to keep an eye out for the big-money signings of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba for Galatasaray. Forward Burak Yilmaz, signed before the start of the season, has scored 13 goals in his last 11 matches and has scored eight goals in the Champions League so far.
Mágala hopes keeps their impressive European run alive when they host German champions Borussia Dortmund to La Rosaleda. The Spanish club has defied the odds this season, mostly thanks to the play of the 20-year-old Isco, as well as experienced players like Julio Baptista, Joaquin, and Roque Santa Cruz.
Dortmund steamrolled into the quarterfinals of the competition with a confident performance against Shaktar Donetsk in the last round, but injury problems could make their trip to Spain a bit more difficult than what it may seem on paper.
Here is a closer look at today’s Champions League quarter-final matches:
REAL MADRID vs. GALATASARAY
2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Players to Watch: REAL MADRID – Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria; GALATASARAY – Burak Yilmaz, Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder, Hamit Altintop.
Quick Kicks: Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas has returned to first team training, but still was not selected to be in the 18 that will face Galatasaray on Wednesday. Fabio Coentrao and Raphael Varane both missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Zaragoza due to injury, and have been included in the squad, but it’s unknown whether they will start or not. Galatasaray have left midfielders Engin Baytar and Aydin Yilmaz back in Turkey, but Johan Elmander has traveled with the squad, finally overcoming his injury troubles for the last couple of months. Ronaldo and Drogba will renew their former Premier League rivalry, facing each other for the first time since the two played each other in the 2010 World Cup match between Portugal and Ivory Coast.
MÁLAGA vs. BORUSSIA DORTMUND
2:45pm, MSG+, Fox Soccer Plus
Players to Watch: MALAGA – Julio Baptista, Isco, Joaquin, Ignacio Camacho; BORUSSIA DORTMUND – Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gündogan.
Quick Kicks: Mats Hummels is still sidelined for Borussia Dortmund with an ankle injury, while Jakub Blaszczykowski, Sebastian Kehl, and Marcel Schmelzer are all doubts to play. However, their recent form should give them hope, having won four of their last five matches, including their 3-0 win over Shakhtar in the last round. Malaga will be missing Eliseu, but Diego Lugano, Dudu, and Ignacio Camacho are all available, after the former two missed the club’s 2-0 win over Porto last month. Malaga on Saturday won their first league match since mid-February.
What do you make of the matchups? Do you believe Gala can steal a draw on the road? Do you like Malaga’s chances?
Share your thoughts below.