How the game was won – Galatasaray vs Juventus

Galatasaray 1 – 0 Juventus

In a game which took us back nostalgically to an era of English football from years gone by with a horrendous pitch and both side’s hopefully punting the ball from one end to the other, Galatasaray managed to qualify for the Knockout Phase of the UEFA Champions League courtesy of a Wesley Sneijder goal five minutes from time in a hectic affair at the Turk Telekom Arena.

These were the conditions as Galatasaray secured the place in the First Knockout Round.

These were the conditions as Galatasaray secured their place in the First Knockout Round.

Juventus I feel approached both the conditions and the match the better of the two sides with Antonio Conte’s men taking no risks defensively with passes back to Gianluigi Buffon. Paul Pogba sat in for Andre Pirlo once again in the holding midfield role and performed admirably bar for a couple of occasions when he was too clever for the sluggish pitch and tried a short pass too many which put Juventus into a little bit of trouble.

Roberto Mancini made one overnight change as it were, shifting his four man defensive line to three for the resumption of hostilities this afternoon, this was supposed to balance out Juventus’ three man defensive formation however it seemed to have little to no effect other than to leave Albert Riera, now positioned as a wing-back lost and out of the game completely.

Whilst it is very difficult to have any sort of game plan in conditions such as the ones seen by Istanbul over the past twenty four hours, Juventus were clever in playing a low risk style of passing when inside their own half and then when they ventured forward the fed the ball to Fernando Llorente who’s touch was exquisite for much of the games despite the difficult under foot conditions.

Galatasaray needing a win to progress into the post-Christmas stage of Europe’s premier club competition were seemingly slow to push for the result, whilst many will say this fits in with Roberto Mancini’s conservative management style it merely looked like it was taking individual players time to become accustomed to the match situation and weather.

Prior to Galatasaray’s goal it was Juventus who were creating the more meaningful chances with Semih Kaya being busy all afternoon long as Galatasaray’s main defender and the twenty two year old’s stock will have risen even further following his excellent display defensively today, his ability to contort his body to still win the ball following an adverse bobble from the pitch was evident in numerous occasions and probably kept the hosts in the match. Juventus arguably should have gone ahead just minutes prior to Sneijder’s goal through Claudio Marchisio when the Italian midfielders shot from just inside the penalty area comfortably found Muslera’s gloves following a surprisingly fluid passing move from the visitors.

In full credit to Galatasaray’s defensive display which kept them in touch with Juventus the goal came at a time when the hosts were on the back foot, a hopeful lofted pass up the field from Selcuk Inan found Didier Drogba who rose fantastically to head the ball down to Sneijder who took the ball into the box and steered it past Buffon into the bottom far corner. It was a historically English goal with the aerial pass used to perfection and it took the game beyond the Turin side with only five minutes remaining.

Antonio Conte will in all likelihood be furious, with the Italian coach seen claiming to the referee at Half-Time “It’s not football” and there is very little argument against that statement however Galatasaray’s strong defensive display was what won Roberto Mancini’s men the game this afternoon as it allowed them to remain close to Juve and always keep open the possibility of a strike late on.

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4



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