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Chelsea vs. Galatasaray: Didier Drogba returns as a potential villain

There are all kinds of cool elements about this tie. Chelsea has the better team and will probably win. No one cares about those things, because Didier Drogba.

Mike Hewitt

While some of the round's biggest or closest-feeling ties have turned into blowouts, Chelsea is strangely uncomfortable heading into the second leg of its Champions League tie with Galatasaray. The Blues have the advantage for Tuesday's game at Stamford Bridge -- a scoring draw is always a decent road result -- but they're only in this situation because of a poor second-half performance. They've left the door open for the Turkish giants to pull off a big upset.

A Galatasaray win wouldn't just be an upset because Chelsea is at the top of the Premier League while its adversaries are struggling to keep pace in the Super Lig title race, but also because of the two teams' managers. Jose Mourinho has often overachieved in Champions League while Roberto Mancini has struggled, even while coaching some of the best talent in the world and winning domestic honors. Even though Mancini won the Premier League and FA Cup with Manchester City, he was eventually sacked due to his failures in this competition.

But the upset is also possible because of the weapons that Galatasaray has. Wesley Sneijder and former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba were let go by the big European powers they used to play for because they made wages that reflected times when they were among the two or three best in the world at their respective positions. They are no longer dominant forces, but they're still capable of creating magic, even if they don't have nearly the pace that they used to. A bad attacking performance can be erased by one Drogba header or one Sneijder free kick.

Chelsea has the better team and the better manager. It should win. But hopefully everyone's learned by now not to count out Sneijder and Drogba in Europe.

First leg score

Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea. A surprisingly poor second-half performance from Chelsea has kept this one interesting.

Team news

Chelsea is waiting on David Luiz to see whether or not he's fit. The Brazilian has missed the last two games with a muscle problem, but could potentially be available. Ashley Cole, who has a knee injury, remains out. Marco Van Ginkel is training again, but is a long way from returning. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are cup-tied.

Galatasaray's injuries are more numerous. Aydin Yilmaz, Gökhan Zan and Emre Colak are all out. Hamit Altintop is a doubt, while Hakan Balta and Aurelien Chedjou both have knocks, though both are expected to make the 18-man squad for the game.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel; Eden Hazard, Willian, Ramires; Samuel Eto'o

Galatasaray (4-3-1-2): Fernando Muslera; Alex Telles, Hakan Balta, Aurelien Chedjou, Emmanuel Eboue; Felipe Melo, Yekta Kurtulus, Selcuk Inan; Wesley Sneijder; Didier Drogba, Burak Yilmaz

football formations

Key Matchups

Chelsea's defenders vs. Didier Drogba - Obvious, but incredibly notable. Didier Drogba wasn't retained by Chelsea a couple of years ago because the team wasn't sure he could produce at a level that matched his salary expectations. Plus, the Blues were locked into paying Fernando Torres insane money. But Drogba is still a very good player. He's not particularly fast and might not have the ups he used to, but it's not like he got dumb or stopped being 6'3. He'll be a serious load to deal with, from open play and on set pieces.

Roberto Mancini vs. his awful tendencies - For some half-witted reason, Roberto Mancini decided to start in an open and attacking 4-4-2 in the first leg. It took no time at all for this to prove to be a stupid idea. He made a tactical change at the half-hour mark and the presence of Yekta Kurtulus in the center of midfield proved to be a good addition. Mancini could try to pack the midfield again ... or he could play some absolutely insane 3-4-3 that gets lit up.


As we mentioned over and over in the first-leg preview and again in this preview, this is a European tie between the historically awesome Jose Mourinho and the historically underachieving Roberto Mancini. If the latter had the stronger squad, we might wonder about what would happen in this tie, but he doesn't. Can you pick against Mourinho, with the better team, against Mancini in Europe? Can anyone? 2-0 Chelsea.