UCL Wednesday Preview: Drogba leads Galatasaray v former side Chelsea, red-hot Real Madrid and Schalke face off

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Didier Drogba spent his best years in a Chelsea shirt, helping them win their first and only Champions League trophy in 2012. Now when Chelsea visits the Turk Telekom Arena for the first leg of the last-16, he will look to help put them out of the competition.

Drogba will lead the Galatasaray attack, which will boast enough talent to trouble the Chelsea back-line. Burak Yilmaz is always capable of scoring with 12 so far in the Turkish Super Lig, while Wesley Snejider will pull the strings in the midfield.

The Chelsea defense has been stingy in the competition, only allowing three goals in the group stage. In the Premier League, they have only allowed one goal in their last five outings. However, Drogba will be an especially tough task, matching physicality with John Terry and Gary Cahill who should they get the nod. Drogba is known for bullying defenders and Chelsea’s good defensive form could very well be at risk.

On the attacking side for the Blues, Eden Hazard will be the one to watch. He continues to create things for Chelsea with trick wing play. The Blues haven’t had one striker really take the mantle as the top striker, but if he starts, Samuel Eto’o will look to add more goals to his game. Getting a crucial away goal could be just the tonic he needs.

Although Jose Mourinho in the Premier League has recently turned his squad out to be more attacking in some of the bigger games, the Mourinho bus may be firmly parked in this one. If he decides to set his team up that way, look for Nemanja Matic to be a disrupting force to the Galatasaray midfielders.

Other Champions League Fixtures

1. Streaking Real Visit Schalke – Real Madrid visits the Veltins Arena in impressive form. The Spanish giants are unbeaten in 27 matches in all competitions, winning 23 of them.

They will be further boosted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s inclusion in the squad after missing the last three La Liga matches through suspension. Ronaldo has scored nine goals already in the competition and the Ballon D’Or winner will be a good bet to add to that tally against Schalke.

However, it hasn’t been just the attacking talent at Madrid that will present a tough challenge to the home side. Real Madrid have kept 13 clean sheets in their last 15 matches.

Although Real are certainly the favorites, Schalke will be no pushovers. They have one of the best young talents in Germany and possibly the world in Julian Draxler, who leads Schalke with three goals in the Champions League. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who plied his trade at Madrid in the past, will also be a threat to find a breakthrough for the Germans.

As good of form Madrid has been in, Schalke too have been on an impressive run. They are unbeaten since December 7th and their recent goalless draw with Mainz was the first time the club failed to record a win in 2014.

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