14 September 2014 22:30
Galatasaray and Anderlecht will know the importance of claiming an early victory when they meet in Group C of the UEFA Champions League.
Qualification for the last 16 appears a tough ask for both teams after they were drawn alongside Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.
Tuesday’s fixture at the Turk Telekom Arena is therefore set to bring together two sides who can ill afford to drop points first up.
Galatasaray head coach Cesare Prandelli, who arrived to much fanfare in July after leaving his previous role as Italy head coach, is all too aware of the challenge that awaits.
However, the veteran Italian expects a raucous home crowd to aid his team.
Prandelli said: “We know it will be a difficult match. But the spectators we will be with us.”
The new man in charge of Galatasaray has not enjoyed the start he would have liked.
A penalty shootout defeat to Fenerbahce in the Turkish Super Cup was followed by a 2-0 away win over Bursaspor, but Saturday’s goalless draw with Eskisehirspor stemmed any momentum.
Galatasaray will be without the injured Semih Kaya, who recently tore his calf while on international duty.
The Istanbul club have not won any of their last four opening-night fixtures in the Champions League, with their worst reverse coming 12 months ago as Real Madrid cruised to a 6-1 success.
However, Galatasaray recovered to qualify for the last 16 on that occasion and are partaking in the group stages for the 13th time.
Anderlecht will hope to provide stern opposition following a strong start to their domestic campaign.
The Belgian outfit boast 15 points from seven games in the Pro League and sit top of the table despite drawing 2-2 with struggling Lierse last time out.
However, they will be hampered by the absences of Fabrice N’Sakala and Silvio Proto – who are serving one-game suspensions.
Anthony Vanden Borre looks set to be sidelined, too, as he continues his rehabilitation from a torn calf muscle sustained at the recent FIFA World Cup with Belgium.
Anderlecht will take confidence from a decent record in Turkey, having won two, drawn one and lost two of their five contests in the country.
Like their opponents, they are competing at this stage for the third season in succession, although Anderlecht managed only a solitary point in a disappointing campaign last time out.
Indeed, Anderlecht have finished bottom in all seven of their group campaigns since reaching the second round in 2000-01.
The teams last met in the 1976-77 European Cup Winners’ Cup, when Anderlecht triumphed 10-2 on aggregate after winning each leg 5-1.