Wed, Apr 10, 4:05am by Kevin Pitstock
The football world holds their collective breaths in anticipation of a sign from Barcelona regarding whether Lionel Messi will be fit for Wednesday’s match. Messi took a knock just before halftime in Barcelona’s first leg match against PSG. The Argentinian went off just before halftime but not before he sunk the first goal of the match.
Messi did not return through the tunnel to start the second half and PSG treated his absence as an opportunity. They levelled the score at 1-1 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic found the back of the net in the 79th minute. Xavi Hernandez placed the Spanish side back in the lead from the penalty spot. However, Blaise Matuidi equalized in stoppage time to draw the French side level once again. PSG view the result as a moral victory and they feel somewhat confident going to the Camp Nou for the second leg. With or without Messi as their opposition, PSG must overcome the two away goals they conceded in Paris if they are to advance.
Whilst the Barca – PSG match is where the world’s minds are at, there are two Champions League matches that play out prior to their Wednesday clash. German side Borussia Dortmund return home to host Malaga. Real Madrid travel to Turkey and take their 3-nil aggregate lead to face Galatasaray.
In this year’s Champions League competition, Borussia Dortmund have won all four of their home matches. In their four home games, last year’s Bundesliga Champions scored seven goals whilst conceding only one time. Dortmund are the only side left in the competition that have not experienced defeat.
Whilst they are of impressive form during this European campaign, in their last five European home matches against Spanish sides, Dortmund have won once with their lone win coming against Real Madrid in the Group Stages earlier in the competition.
In the first leg, Dortmund failed to secure an away goal. Thus, they will have to play with discipline in the back. Conceding a single goal to Malaga means Dortmund will have to win the match to move onto the semi-finals. A key to silencing Malaga lies with addressing Malaga playmaker Sebastian Fernandez, as he has a goal and an assist in Malaga’s last two goals on the road.
In addition to keeping the Spanish side quiet, Dortmund will rely upon Mario Goetz, as he has been involved in six of Dortmund’s last ten goals in the competition. His increase in productivity has helped Dortmund withstand the drought brought on from Robert Lewandowski, as he has failed to score in his last 229 minutes of play in the Champions League. Scoring may be a bit difficult, as Malaga have registered five clean sheets in the Champions League, which is joint top. Additionally, Malaga have not conceded a goal in the first half in the competition.
Whilst we rhetorically wonder on the status of the Barcelona star, we know of several players who are not playing in the Galatasaray – Real Madrid return leg. Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz has been ruled out of this match due to a suspension. The Turkish side registered an appeal to his suspension. However, the ruling was confirmed and he is “out” for this match. Additionally, Galatasaray will make due without Dany Nounkeu, as he misses due to accumulation of yellow cards.
Madrid will be missing Sergio Ramos and Xavi Ramos, as they too are banned due to accumulation of yellow cards. Additionally, Pepe picked up a knock in training. Thus, Alvaro Arbeloa will likely start in his place.
Whilst the trip to Turkey is never an “easy” task, Real Madrid should coast through this match with little trouble. Cristiano Ronaldo’s form is peaking in the Champions League, as he is the top scorer in the competition on nine goals. Compared to their current CV, Galatasaray have an insurmountable hill to climb. They have failed to score more than once in each of their four CL home matches and they need at least three goals if they are to advance. To make matters worse for the home side, suspended striker Burak Yilmaz accounts for eight of the eleven Galatasaray goals.
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