Real Madrid Jose Mourinho has continued to talk fondly of his former players Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, while conceding that they will have very different objectives at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Drogba, at Chelsea, and Sneijder, at Inter Milan, were crucial figures in past Mourinho sides but will be looking to inspire their new club Galatasaray in the first-leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
“They have been my players, we like each other, we respect each other, and tomorrow we have opposite objectives,” Mourinho said, according to Real Madrid’s official Web site. “They want to play a great game and I want to help my guys to play a good game. That’s how football is. They are very important players in my career.”
Mourinho has little concerns with his own team with defenders Fabio Coentrao and Raphael Varane having returned to training after missing Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Real Zaragoza. Iker Casillas remains on the sidelines, despite being back in training following a broken thumb.
Mourinho’s one real selection dilemma is likely to be up front. The manager’s talking up of Gonzalo Higuain’s contribution against Manchester United in the last round, suggests that the in-form Argentinian will get the nod over Karim Benzema.
Galatasaray also have no new injury worries to add to the long-term absence of Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi. There is also a boost with Swedish striker Johan Elmander returning to the squad after being sidelined for two months with a foot problem.
Manager Fatih Terim has strongly suggested that he will not modify his open, attacking approach, despite Madrid’s prowess on the counter attack, meaning that Sneijder and Drogba will likely start in addition to the Champions League’s joint-top scorer Burak Yilmaz.
Emmanuel Eboue, formerly of Arsenal, and ex-Liverpool winger Albert Riera are expected to start at full-back and be given the task of trying to negate Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria. Despite Madrid’s tag as strong favorites, Terim is full of belief in his team.
“We have never given up before a game and we have achieved significant results with this attitude,” the former Milan manager said, according to UEFA’s official Web site. “We want to go back to Istanbul with an advantage. These kind of games are open to all possibilities. If we lose it wouldn't be a surprise but if we win it would be.”
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
D: Eboue, Kaya, Nounkeu, Riera
M: Altintop, Inan, Melo, Sneijder
F: Burak, Drogba
Betting Odds: Real Madrid are considerable favorites, priced at 2/11, with Bet 365 to take a lead form the first leg. A draw is available at 7/1 and a Galatasaray win at 16/1.
Where to watch: The Champions League quarterfinal first leg will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.