Galatasaray 3-2 Real Madrid: Terim’s half-time switch gives Galatasaray hope

April 10, 2013

The starting line-ups

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early strike left Galatasaray needing five – and they created enough chances to give Real a fright.

Without Burak Yilmaz, Fatih Terim brought in Umut Bulut and stuck to his diamond system, rather than switching to a 4-4-1-1, as rumoured.

Jose Mourinho was without Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos – he named the expected outfield side with Gonzalo Higuain upfront. Diego Lopez continued in goal.

Real’s early goal suggested the tie was over – but Galatasaray stormed back.

Galatasaray use diamond and set the tempo

The pace of this match was completely different from the night’s other Champions League match, where Malaga successfully calmed the tempo of their contest in Dortmund, stifling the home side’s passing. In Istanbul, with a hostile atmosphere and Terim committed to the attack-minded approach from the Bernabeu, Galatasaray made this a quick contest, and the Turkish champions continually drove powerfully at Real Madrid.

Again, the diamond caused Real Madrid problems in the centre of the pitch early on. Unlike last week, Real rarely pressed high up the pitch (at one point Higuain chased the two centre-backs on his own, then looked frustrated no-one was backing him up) but they did have problems in the centre of midfield. Mesut Ozil stayed high up close to Felipe Melo, which meant Welsey Sneijder, Selcuk Inan and Hamit Altintop could move forward and form a 3 v 2 situation against Sami Khedira and Luka Modric. Modric lacks Alonso’s positional sense, and Sneijder found a fair amount of space between the lines.

Eboue v Ronaldo

But the major story was down Galatasaray’s right – they played 45% of their passes down that flank throughout the game (compared to 31% down the left, and only 24% through the middle).

The major reason was the extremely aggressive position of Emmanuel Eboue. A constant theme in matches involving Ronaldo is whether right-backs should move forward and expose his lack of defensive work, or stay back and ensure he’s marked at all times. Galatasaray, in keeping with their attacking approach, chose the former – with Melo moving slightly to the right to cover.

Ronaldo had opportunities to counter-attack in behind Eboue, but the former Arsenal right-back made great use of the space between Ronaldo and Coentrao, powering forward and delivering a couple of decent balls into the box. Wesley Sneijder also started to sense space on that flank, and drifted to the right to play a couple of dangerous crosses – despite the fact he usually enjoys drifting to the left. Later, Eboue would motor forward to slam in a stunning goal, Galatasaray’s first of the night – he was much more advanced than left-back Albert Riera.

Strikers v Coentrao

Another crucial part of Galatasaray’s play down the right was the positioning of their forwards. Didier Drogba and Bulut played as a duo, but in the first half Terim made sure one of the players was covering Real’s left-back zone, to prevent Fabio Coentrao getting forward. On the other flank, Michael Essien (and his replacement Alvaro Arbeloa) was clearly considered less of a threat.

This stopped Coentrao getting forward, but also meant he was dealing with a big physical forward once Galatasaray won possession, not a situation he’s accustomed to. Also, as he tracked his man inside, it opened up more space on the flank for Eboue to charge into.

Real approach

Galatasaray’s attacking strategy meant they left the full-back positions bare and played with a high defensive line. Real played predominantly on the counter-attack, leaving Ozil in a position to start the breaks, with Angel Di Maria defending deeper but flying forward down the right.

That approach created a couple of excellent chances on the break, but at times it felt like Real were contributing to the high-speed nature of the game, which played into the hands of the home side. Some calmer ball retention might have frustrated Galatasaray and cooled the tempo.mStill, it often seemed likely Real would break in behind the defence to good effect – Fernando Muslera had to play as a sweeper, with Galatasaray pushing high up the pitch.

Another feature was the high number of fouls committed by Galatasaray – 21 – which sometimes stopped Real’s counters, but also slowed the game.

Terim change

The line-ups midway through the second half, with Galatasaray's two wingers on

At half-time, Terim changed his formation. He brought on winger Nourredine Amrabat for Hamit Altintop, and moved from a diamond to a 4-2-3-1. Amrabat played wide on the left and attacked Arbeloa, while on the opposite side, Bulut moved to a permanently right-sided role, increasing the pressure on Coentrao.

Real’s counter-attacking continued – Ronaldo missed a golden chance on the break just before Eboue’s goal – but Galatasaray’s change worked amazingly well. The diamond had caused Real problems in the centre of the pitch, but now their full-backs appeared unable to deal with the wing threat. On Galatasaray’s left, Amrabat offered some pace and directness, pulling Arbeloa up the pitch with others breaking into the space behind. He twisted and turned nicely on the ball, playing simple passes when crosses weren’t possible.

On the other flank, Bulut also did well against Coentrao – who looked rattled, carelessly knocking the ball across his six-yard box for Sneijder to miss an absurdly easy chance. But Galatasaraybecame even better down the right when Terim removed Bulut and brought on Sabri Sarioglu – on paper, another right-back. He continued to pin back Coentrao, and also combined nicely with Eboue down that side – the substitute was probably the second half’s best player, and Galatasaray now had fresh legs on both flanks. Real’s full-backs didn’t get enough protection from further ahead.

Sariolglu set up the second: he and Eboue formed a 2 v 1 against Coentrao, allowing Sarioglu to duck inside and slip the ball to Sneijder.

The third also came from the third – Sarioglu and Eboue were joined by Amrabat, crossing flanks to cause a further overload, and crossing for Drogba’s clever finish.

At this point, Mourinho made a change – he put on Karim Benzema for Higuain, and also switched Di Maria, Real’s best ‘defensive’ winger’, to the left, with Ozil going right and Ronaldo more central. This helped stem the flow down Real’s left, and Galatasaray had a quiet spell.

Benzema also – accidentally – managed to injure Eboue in an aerial clash, which was a considerable blow to Galatasaray’s attacking. Terim brought on Johan Elmander in Eboue’s place, with Sarioglu slightly deeper – but Galatasaray no longer had that right-sided threat, with Di Maria’s defensive role also crucial down that sie.

With Galatasaray throwing on another striker, Mourinho brought on Raul Albiol for Ozil, and Real were more a little more comfortable in the final 10 minutes. Arbeloa was given two bookings in stoppage time, but Ronaldo scored a second to put Real through.


Rarely have Real Madrid looked so nervous at the back – and a major factor may have been the lack of on-field leaders, with Casillas, Ramos and Alonso all absent.

Galatasaray’s main threat throughout the game was down the right, in three different situations. First they used one forward drifting that way, with Eboue charging forward. Then, Bulut was permanently that side in a 4-2-3-1, and finally Sarioglu teamed up with Eboue very effectively. The three goals came from that side, and it was an example of how Ronaldo can be a problem for his side defensively. Obviously, he compensated for that by scoring two goals – but Mourinho was keen to put Di Maria to the left in the final stages, and it showed that sides can have success when being brave against Real’s left side.

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