Mourinho to face former players against Gala

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

It could have been worse for Real Madrid. Turkish giants Galatasaray, perhaps the shock inclusion in the last eight of the Champions League, will provide the next barrier to overcome for Jose Mourinho as his Los Blancos search for La Decima.

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The draw for the quarterfinals took place on Friday and Madrid avoided the so-called big guns of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, instead being handed a tie against a Galatasaray side who edged out Schalke in the last 16 to progress.

It's right to say there are no easy ties at this stage of the world's greatest club competition, but Madrid will be content at facing a side many will put as rank outsiders to win the competition outright.

Of course, it would be wrong to start looking ahead to the semifinals already. While Madrid will be favourites to progress against the Turks, Galatasaray will be no pushovers -- far from it.

As well as excelling in this year's European competition, the Istanbul club top the Turkish league and have splashed the cash somewhat this season, surprising many around Europe by securing the signings of big-name players such as former Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba, a winner of last season's Champions League with Chelsea.

The aforementioned duo are players Mourinho will know all about. Something that may help Madrid in their cause of overcoming Galatasaray, but something that will also make Mourinho aware of the damage they can cause. Sneijder, nicknamed "The Sniper" for his pinpoint passing, won the competition with the "Special One" during his time at Inter, while Drogba stocked his trophy cabinet up with Mourinho at Chelsea -- and his penalty helped the Premier League club lift the trophy last term.

There's also the small matter of another former Madrid man in Hamit Altintop, who scored to set the Turks on their way in Germany in midweek, wanting to prove a point in front of his former manager, who was happy enough to see the Turkish international depart the Bernabeu last season. What better way of saying 'I told you so' by producing a top performance against your former manager and club?

Then there's the atmosphere. Madrid -- brace yourselves. There was a story doing the rounds this week that Galatasaray fans were caught digging a hole into Schalke's stadium to witness their side in the sold-out clash in midweek. They travel well, and they make a hell of a lot of noise. It's on home soil, however, that the Turkish fans really come into their own.

The Turk Telekom Arena may be no Ali Sami Yen stadium (Galatasaray's intimidating former home), but the home support is like no other. "Welcome to Hell" was the famous banner inside Galatasaray's old stadium that welcomed visiting teams. Mourinho will be aware, and I'm sure his players will be aware, too. But being aware and experiencing it are two completely different things, however, and boss Fatih Terim will know that support can act as the "twelfth man" when Madrid travel over to the Turkish capital for the second leg.

All that aside, Madrid should be confident of progressing, whoever they faced, in the quarterfinals. On current form, Mourinho and his men will be confident over two legs against a Barcelona side they've had the better of recently, while a case of revenge would have been on the table had Bayern visited the Spanish capital.

As it is, the focus is on Galatasaray, and a side who should be able to play without pressure over the two legs in April. The Turks visit Madrid on April 3 and the return leg comes just six days later on April 9, with Madrid having a home Liga game against Levante between. Mourinho will no doubt fancy a healthy advantage ahead of the return trip to Galatasaray's intimidating stadium.

Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholasrigg

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