Having been held to a 0-0 draw in front of their own fans in the first leg of their last-16 tie, Barcelona will endeavor to advance to the Europa League quarter-finals when Galatasaray welcomes them to Turkey for the second leg.
The first leg fixture at the Camp Nou last week ended in a goalless draw. At the weekend, the hosts secured a 2-1 win at home over arch-rivals Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig as Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu bagged a first-half brace. They will be banking on their home advantage to secure an upset against the La Liga giants here.
Galatasaray have improved a lot recently; they lost just one of their last seven games, with three wins and three draws. This is interesting considering they had lost six consecutive games before that.
Form Guide: Barcelona
Barca head into the second leg having only conceded one goal in their last four games across all tournaments – as well as winning each of their last three away from home – and not since 2004 have the La Liga giants been dumped out at this stage of Europe’s second-tier competition.
Barcelona’s most recent trip to Galatasaray ended in a 2-0 win during the 2002-03 Champions’ League group stage, with Xavi playing 75 minutes of that contest, and it would be some story if Torrent’s side were to dash the Catalans’ dreams of European success in front of their ardent fanbase.
The Catalans continued their winning run in the league with a 4-0 win over Osasuna on Sunday night. This was their fourth win in a row in the Spanish top-flight.
Form Guide: Galatasaray
Galatasaray head into Thursday’s game having lost just one of their last seven in all competitions after a dismal streak of defeats over the winter, and they have only failed to score in one of their last 16 home games. Furthermore, not since 2008, have the hosts been shut out on their own turf in the Europa League.
The 1999-2000 UEFA Cup winners have never made it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League in its current format, but having already seen off Marseille and Lazio on home soil in this season’s tournament – staying unbeaten in the process – Torrent’s side can dare to dream.
How the match could go
Barcelona have enjoyed a great run in recent fixtures and are unbeaten in their last nine games across all competitions. They have scored four goals in four of their last six games across all competitions and this goalscoring form will be an advantage for them here. The hosts have looked a little shaky throughout the season but have not lost a game at home in the Europa League thus far. It is expected to be a close game but the Catalans should be able to triumph.
With all respect due to the Turkish team, they are having a rough season, made even tougher by them drawing Barcelona in the round of 16 of the Europa League. After finishing second in the Turkish championship last season, they are currently 12th, with an incredibly poor run of form.
Barcelona to Win
Barcelona could be in for a rough ride against Galatasaray on the unforgiving Nef Stadium turf, with the hosts enjoying the new manager bounce under Torrent and possessing quite the difference-maker in Akturkoglu.
A distinct lack of ruthlessness bedeviled the Catalans in the first leg, but with Xavi able to call upon so many talented attacking options, La Blaugrana will expect to break down a beleaguered Galatasaray defense and advance to the last eight. Bet9ja have 1.37, 1xbet have 1.38 and Paripesa have 1.38 odds.
Over 2.5 Goals
Although the reverse fixture of this tie was goalless, these are two high-scoring teams. Barcelona scored 18 goals in their last six games; that’s three goals per game on average. It’s worth noting that five of those six games went over 2.5, with four of those games going over 3.5. Similarly, Galatasaray has had their fair share of high-scoring games; three of their last five games went over 2.5, with just over three goals scored on average in those five games. On that note, we should expect some goals in this match. Bet9ja have 1.58 odds, Paripesa have 1.66 and 1xbet have 1.66 odds.
Anytime Goalscorer (Barcelona)
The Spaniard has seemingly settled in his new club with his consecutive goals for the clubs these past game weeks. It is undeniable that he is a vital key to Xavi’s game here at Barcelona as he has proved his worth when started and even when he comes from the bench. He heads into the second leg of this tie with three goals in his previous two La Liga fixtures. Bet9ja have 2.25 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 2.75.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will look to live up to his coach’s expectations, having been hailed as “a present that has fallen out of the sky”. The forward has been in stellar form for Barcelona and he will surely be amongst the goals here today. Bet9ja have 2.00 odds and Paripesa have 1.65 odds for him to score.
Anytime Goalscorer (Galatasaray)
Turkish starlet Akturkoglu was at the double for his side as Galatasaray warmed up for the second leg with a 2-1 Super Lig success over Besiktas, as Torrent seeks to instill a sense of resilience into the faltering giants. He came pretty close to winning it for his side on the day. He could well be the difference for the Turkish team here today. Bet9ja have 6.50 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 9.00.
Still the man with the second-most goals in the team he would be an unlikely hero if he finds the back of the net here. Galatasaray needs all the forward experience they can get and he would be there to provide that today. Bet9ja have 6.00 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 4.50.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.