Galatasaray v Chelsea: live Champions League last-16 webchat

Dominic Fifield was online to answer your questions about the Champions League last-16 tie in Istanbul

Dominic has signed off

Thanks for all your comments and questions. Here are a few more pieces on the football site today:

• Why Roy Keane makes compulsive viewing as a pundit

• Should Manchester United stick with David Moyes?

• Let’s take the penalty area out of penalty decisions

Guardian staff

Thanks for the questions and comments. Off to the Turk Telekom Arena - or, rather, off into the gridlock outside the hotel. Enjoy the game tonight, all.


Faye_Good asks:

Wondered what your thoughts are with regards to Gary Cahill, many of us believe he is one of the most improved players in the Chelsea team and, although Terry is deservedly (and finally) receiving plaudits for his performances a lot of that must go down to his partnership with Cahill especially as both players look unsure when paired with other players. One of my fellow fans said after the Everton game that Cahill looked like he had joined that ‘core’ of players. Also Terry’s upturn in form is brilliant however he is nearing the end of his career and so attention has turned to his replacement as captain, many have mentioned Cahill for the job...but without Terry or Lampard on the pitch, leadership for CFC seems a very real problem! Do you think anybody from CFC’s current squad can step up?

Guardian staff

Cahill's been superb over recent months, and clearly benefits from playing alongside Terry (as he did, indeed, with England for a while). I still think he has the occasional poor game in him, where he can be exposed, but he has clearly improved this year. As regards strength in depth, Ivanovic has been solid at centre-back when required, and is considered a leader in the team as one of the more experienced performers in that core group. Luiz, too, has the personality to lead once Terry / Lampard move on, though his style would, admittedly, be rather different. But that core is there and will be maintained: theirs has been an evolution in terms of shifting on the players from Mourinho's first period at the club, which has ensured some continuity and allowed the younger players and new recruits (like Cahill) more time to settle and make their own influence felt.

MarcusChristenson asks:

Hi Dom, I want to know where you rate Chelsea among all the other teams left in the Champions League? Fifth? Behind Bayern, Barça, Real and PSG? Or behind City as well?

Guardian staff

You're so obsessed with Zlatan Ibrahimovic... I'd say, despite the manager's statements to the contrary, that they are more streetwise than PSG at present, and it wouldn't surprise me if Mourinho could pull off a result over two legs against Real Madrid (given personal motivations and knowledge etc). But Bayern Munich and Barcelona feel well ahead of the pack, in truth.

hellomartin asks:

Hi Dominic. Do you think Chelsea are actually playing any better than they were in the latter part of last season? (I am not convinced) Apart from the obvious need for a striker, what would you do to strengthen the squad if you were the manager?
Guardian staff

They're a lot more consistent this season, hence their league position, though it should be added that they will not be saddled with the same onerous fixture list (complete with that jaunt over to Japan for the Fifa Club World Cup) this time around, which should aid them in the run-in. I think they feel a bit more streetwise this time around, and they've managed to stay in contention through the first half of the season which will generate its own momentum for the last few months to come. They have a league title to play for. In terms of style, that does still feel a work in progress: they look great when Hazard clicks, or Oscar finds his rhythm, but they can still be hit and miss (I was at West Bromwich Albion for that game, which was less than impressive, and Everton on Saturday was a bit of a slog).

What would I strengthen? Well, the forward-line is clearly the main aspect, as you mention, but I don't think they are short of being the "phenomenal" side Mourinho hopes they will be next season. Implementing a style of play takes time. They should be stronger next year than they were at the start of this.

Richard Arnatt asks:

What odds would you give on a bit of fisticuffs between Mourinho and Mancini? Mou was not exactly complimentary about the Inter side he inherited and Mancini seems like one of the thinnest-skinned managers in the game. Not expecting much to happen on the pitch itself so it’s only the promise of a set-to that’s keeping me from getting on with painting the bathroom.

Guardian staff

"Fisticuffs"... I wouldn't be surprised at a few verbal barbs from one to the other, maybe on the touchline but more likely in the post-match media duties, if the game conjures some controversial moments. That all started again last night on the back of a piece Mancini had done with the Evening Standard, which prompted Mourinho to have a bite back upon arrival here in Istanbul: I suspect it will rumble on for a few weeks yet...

A clickable link: José Mourinho and Roberto Mancini clash ahead of Champions League tie

ID0318270 asks:

Would you agree that it’s rarely what Mourinho says that bothers people, but rather the fact that it is him saying it? The press and Arsenal supporters were quite precious about the ”specialist in failure” jibe but have said worse about Wenger fairly regularly themselves for at least five years. Similarly, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t think City have the best squad in the league, or that Barça aren’t as good as they were a few years ago. So why do so many find it so irksome when Mourinho says it?

Guardian staff

Maybe you're allowed to criticise your own, but still feel a sense of outrage when an "outsider" (or a journalist, perhaps) is scathing. I guess that's a natural response. On the timing point, and in fairness to Mourinho / Wenger / Pellegrini, that may be more down to us, as media, asking questions that relate to forthcoming games or the on-going title race, rather than them dictating "this is the time to rip into X or Y"...


laurencerussell asks:

In your opinion, has Mourinho made a mistake in cutting Ashley Cole out of the first-team squad. Few would contest that Azpilicueta has played very well in this new system, but come the tail end of the season surely the experience and quality of Cole would be beneficial in big games, particularly in the Champions League. Further to this had similar action been taken last season by Benitez then I would suggest the reaction from the fans would have been very different.
Guardian staff

You have a point about the reaction that might have been whipped up last season had a similar decision been taken, but Mourinho is just being pragmatic. Azpilicueta has not put a foot wrong as yet, so why would he be dropped for Cole? The England left-back has been training well, and hasn't performed particularly badly when he has been offered time in the side, so he can still have an impact this season and regain his place. But, for now, Mourinho is fielding his first-choice and strongest defence.

50Kaweeksub asks:

Hi Dom, do you feel that José crossed the line re Wenger? I personally feel that he crossed the line and then pissed all over it.
Guardian staff

I'm not sure anyone really came out of that episode with their dignity completely intact. Mourinho probably crossed the line more obviously back in 2005 with that infamous "voyeur" comment, and he made a point of apologising for that a few weeks ago. The surprising thing about it all was that their relationship genuinely appeared to have improved over the first few months of this season after Mourinho's return to England. Then again, maybe I was naive to think so: it must be easy to be friendlier when you're not in direct competition and, at present, they're head-to-head in the Premier League title race.

praetorian79 asks:

Who will win the battle between Terry and Drogba?

Guardian staff

That's one of the more intriguing sub-plots from this evening's game... Those aerial clashes should be fairly thunderous. I fancy Terry to edge it over the two legs, particularly if Drogba struggles to cope with the emotion of returning to Stamford Bridge next month (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it did appear to get to him when he returned to Olympique de Marseille back in 2010 and he was desperately poor at the Stade Velodrome), but there could be some distinctly awkward moments this evening.

getdfunkout asks:

In your opinion is Lukaku the best bet for leading the line in the next season? Why does it seem that José doesn’t particularly like him or Ba although we have such a lack of quality strikers? As regards tonight’s game, do you think Drogba has the capability still to trouble Terry and Cahill, and whether Chelsea are better off playing Luiz as the defensive midfielder instead of Mikel?

Guardian staff

I still think Lukaku will have some convincing to do when he returns next summer that he should be first-choice at Chelsea. The management have only really seen fleeting glimpses of him in a Chelsea shirt to date, from pre-season and that disappointing cameo in the Uefa SuperCup final in Prague last August, so it's too early to judge properly. But he will have an opportunity in pre-season, once returned from World Cup duties, to prove he should be a mainstay and make a prolonged impact in the team. I wonder whether Mourinho still sees him as an impact player to be used from the bench, rather than a forward who can be relied upon to hold up the ball every week and bring the attacking, creative players like Hazard, Willian and Oscar into the game... He will have to adapt to the style Mourinho's Chelsea are attempting to instil to prove he belongs.

Clearly, on some level, Chelsea must have wondered if they made the right decision to loan even an unsettled player out back on deadline day in September given the lack of prolific striking options they've been left with this season. The hope was that Lukaku would go to Everton, develop rapidly in a good team under Roberto Martinez and take points of Chelsea's rivals as he played every week, and then return more ready to start for the Londoners. That theory has felt plausible all year. But it was interesting to hear Mourinho, while explaining the club's FFP policy earlier this month, suggest that some of the talented younger players recruited by the scouting department - he cited De Bruyne (now sold), Lukaku, Courtois and Piazon - may actually never play for the club. Instead, they would be moved on at vast profit to continue their careers elsewhere (De Bruyne was bought for £6.7m and, after one Premier League start, sold to Wolfsburg for £18m) and help balance the books. I wonder whether, ultimately, that might also apply to Lukaku.

RedStarLeith asks:

What I find weird about the whole Mourinho/Eto’o/no striker thing is nobody’s even mentioned Torres in this despite him being effectively being described by Mourinho as a non-entity. Do you think Chelsea will find someone to unload him on if they’re being in a real striker? Surely they’ll have, to given his wages and the fair play rules...
Guardian staff

This is a fair point: on the face of it, Mourinho does seem to have forgotten about a £50m World Cup winner. But I would say that, in Canal Plus' video of the "off-the-record conversation" Mourinho had with the head of Hublot watches, it did appear as if he was asked specifically about Eto'o and was therefore only responding in relation to him. I'm not sure there was a question fired at him about Torres at the event, and it's also worth noting that the Spaniard has only recently returned to fitness after that latest spell in the treatment room - he seems to have an uncanny knack of picking up knocks, strains or suspensions just as his form is threatening to pick up - so he may not have been in Mourinho's thinking at the time the interview was conducted.

Regardless, I do think it will be tricky for Chelsea to off-load Torres if they decide that is what would be best. On the basis that Eto'o (out of contract) and Ba (frustrated at a lack of opportunities) are likelier to leave, it may be that the club attempt to retain the Spaniard, Romelu Lukaku and add one more to the ranks in the summer.

bleudegex asks:

How’s Buruk Yilmaz getting on? Will he play tonight?

Guardian staff

The local media anticipate him starting the game, but I was quite surprised to see he has yet to score in the Champions League this season given his record over recent years... He's played four times and is yet to register in Europe, but has managed 12 goals in 21 league games this season. Mourinho mentioned him and Umut Bulut when pointing out Galatasaray's attacking force is not restricted just to Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, so there will be a clear threat there.


Oebo26 asks:

Is there a better fullback in the league than Azpilicueta? With much of the focus being on how Ashley Cole has not been playing and not on the reasons why he’s not being playing (principally the stupendous form of Azpi), is there much chance of him getting the recognition his season deserves (in things like the team of the year and so on), or will much of the plaudits fall on someone like Leighton Baines by default?

Guardian staff

As I mentioned above, I agree: he has been absolutely outstanding, almost surprisingly so, since being offered that chance to fill in at left-back. Mourinho has made great play of the fact that Azpilicueta has simply not made a mistake since taking Cole's place in the team back in November, and he offers balance, pace and defensive surety even when operating on the "wrong" side. Given Chelsea's defensive record over recent months - three goals conceded in 10 Premier League games - perhaps recognition will follow, though the form of Baines and Shaw should also be acknowledged as impressive this season. Certainly, Azpilicueta appears to be appreciated by team-mates and Chelsea's management staff which, I suspect, is all he really cares about at present...

inexplicable asks:

Hi Dominic. What are the chances of Ashley Cole staying at the club past the summer?
Guardian staff

Good question. With every game he sits out, it seems less likely that Cole would commit to another year at Stamford Bridge effectively to be a bit-part player for either Cesar Azpilicueta or, perhaps, a new recruit (Luke Shaw, perhaps, if Southampton can be persuaded to sell...). At the start of the season I'd anticipated both Terry and Cole signing new one-year deals some time after Christmas to prolong their careers at Stamford Bridge, with maybe Frank Lampard opting to leave given he will be 36 in the summer. I'd still anticipate Terry staying, even if the club will be unwilling to offer him the longer-term deal he has been seeking, but I do wonder whether Cole might be tempted to move elsewhere under freedom of contract: perhaps Major League Soccer rather than a rival Premier League club. I've been waiting for him to burst back into the side and hold down his place again for a while now, but it simply is not happening - largely because Azpilicueta has been outstanding filling in on the opposite flank to that with which he is more usually used. Mourinho keeps making the right noises about all three of his veteran Englishmen: hopeful on Terry; in praise of Lampard; determined to offer new terms to Cole. But he did admit recently that he did not know whether the left-back would be persuaded to stay on, and that, in itself, felt telling.

TheManFromNantucket asks:

How much do you reckon Chelsea will miss Nemanja Matić in this game?
Guardian staff

I suspect we'll see David Luiz filling in for Matic again in midfield, with Terry and Cahill as centre-halves. At least it's not a surprise: everyone knew the club were buying a player who was cup-tied in the Champions League, and his arrival was very much for the long-term, so they will have planned for life without him in this competition. But, already, it is clear what quality the Serb gives this team both in his defensive positioning, passing and sheer strength and presence in the middle. David Luiz boasts the array of passing and a presence, but, as we all know, he can over-elaborate at times and maybe lacks the required discipline to sit and keep things simple. I'd anticipate Mourinho standing in the technical area barking orders at the Brazilian over the course of the night to keep reminding him of his basic responsibilities. But this is an experienced player, a Champions League winner and captain of Brazil, so Chelsea should make do...

barneymcgrew asks

Hi Dominic. If the rumours are true and Chelsea will be after Falcao in the summer, do you think there’s a chance that Chelsea might just be shifting the Torres “problem” on to another striker, i.e. another one who’ll be coming back from injury with no proof that he’ll ever be able to reach the heights seen before?

Guardian staff

I'm yet to be convinced that Chelsea, with their apparent desire to comply with Uefa financial fair play regulations and on-going commitment to "balancing the books" (if that is every truly possible) will be in the market for a player who would cost in excess of £50m and would command huge wages, given the tax breaks he's been enjoying in Monaco this season. The injury adds another element to the mix. There has been an interest there in the Colombian. Indeed, I think Chelsea considered him seriously over last season with a view to a move last summer, only for Monaco to blow all-comers out of the water and take him from Atletico Madrid. But I suspect Chelsea may have to look elsewhere for a forward option: maybe to Atletico for Diego Costa, or Bayern for Mandzukic... there are alternatives out there. What happens then to Torres is another matter, given there are relatively few clubs out there who could meet his current wages...

praetorian79 asks:

Hi Dominic. Do you think Chelsea will triumph, or draw, comfortably or will we buckle under the strenuous pressure from a very lively Gallata fan base?

Guardian staff

As intimidating as the atmosphere will be at the Turk Telekom Arena, I can't see Chelsea's players buckling under the noise. Mourinho may insist they lack experience at this level - which is debatable - but they've all played major games in intimidating stadia, for club and country, so that should not be an issue. It'll be interesting to see the start of the turf given the heavy rain in these parts recently. That might have more of an impact if the pitch cuts up badly. I still think it will be tight tonight, but Chelsea should prevail in the return - Mancini's away record is not that impressive, with four wins in 17 matches this season - and go through.

cianmulligan asks:

What’s the story Dominic? Joel Campbell is the only player from a Premier League club to have scored in the first legs of the Champions League last-16, do you expect that to remain the case after tonight? Also, what is Mancini up to with his percentage stunt? Just precipitating his sides’ usual pitiful Champions League performance?
Guardian staff

The percentage stunt was a bit out of left-field, albeit it seemed to be almost a private joke between Mancini and his interpreter up on the stage at the Galatasaray training ground. The point he was making was clearly that his team are rank outsiders to knock Chelsea out. Certainly, in terms of his own managerial record in this competition, that would tally: Mourinho is bidding to reach the semi-final stage for the eighth time in 10 full attempts; Mancini has only once taken a side to the quarters in seven tries with Lazio, Inter and Manchester City.

Chelsea will be craving an away goal this evening and, given their pace and familiarity with prospering on the counter-attack, it would not be unexpected if they became the first English club to register a goal in the knockout phase this season. The onus will be on Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar, or Ramires' energy from the centre, to wound Galatasaray. Chelsea will probably need a goal because they will be tested defensively by the Turkish team, whose own attacking ranks boast real quality. A score draw does not seem improbable but, essentially, I do anticipate Joel Campbell being joined by another Premier League player on the scoring charts this evening.

tdraid writes:

Hi Dominic. I’m starting to feel a burden on me. A millstone around my neck. I’m a Chelsea fan. The last two years of carrying the nation’s hopes in Europe are starting to wear me down. I’m often accosted by my friends, “our football clubs are woefully inadequate, tdraid, so we’re hoping that Chelsea, the people’s champions, will yet again restore English footballing respectability in Europe”. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this terrible affliction? I almost perversely wish that I supported a team whose European pedigree consists of getting heroically/bravely/gallantly knocked out in the last 16 every year, like Arsenal.
Guardian staff

That does, indeed, sound like a terrible affliction. Though even Jose Mourinho would disagree with you about last season's Europa League success. He was scathing about that yesterday in what will inevitably be viewed on one level as another pop at Rafael Benitez's achievements while in interim charge...

To quote Mourinho: "Last year Chelsea were knocked out in the group phase, so it’s not two years going all the way in Europe. The Europa League came as a consequence of being eliminated in that group phase, so I don’t consider last year to be successful. It was actually our worst year because it’s the only time Chelsea was knocked out in the group phase. We have already done better by qualifying through the group phase this time, but what we did is normal. Nothing special, nothing outstanding. We did what we had to do in a group which was not one of the strongest. We did our job."

Well, there job now is to edge out Galatasaray and force passage into the quarter-finals where, Mourinho added, even the most unlikely qualifiers can become contenders. First things first: becoming the first English club to manage a knockout goal would be a start tonight.


Dominic is online

tractorbuoy asks:

Hi Dominic, with regard to Chelsea and strikers, I was wondering whether you think Mourinho ever had any real interest in signing Rooney or whether it was just a ploy to force Manchester United into tying up a massive part of their future budget to keep him at Old Trafford?
Guardian staff

Hi there. I know with Mourinho - and, as a journalist, I'm more guilty of this than most - it's always easy to assume he's playing "mind games" with every public utterance, but I do believe the interest in Rooney was genuine. That much was clear last summer in pre-season, when Chelsea, on one level of another, felt it was possible to prise him away from Manchester United. Even in the autumn, when Mourinho suggested publicly that he thought the forward would be sold abroad in the summer, the underlying theory was that the player wanted out at United and that negotiations over a new deal would not yield agreement. That much has changed since, to the tune of £300,000-a-week, and Chelsea are clearly going to have to look elsewhere for a forward. But, at the time, the interest was genuine, not least because the player involved was English (a factor in terms of Uefa competition and 'homegrown' criteria etc), was entering the last two years of his contract at the time (which might have potentially affected the price at which he was "available") and, clearly, had intimated he might be open to a move to Stamford Bridge. Instead, they'll have to look elsewhere.

Dominic will be here from 3pm GMT

Good afternoon. Dominic will be here from 3pm, but in the meantime here are some of our Champions League articles:

• José Mourinho given 80% last-eight chance by old rival Mancini

They were not buying José Mourinho‘s familiar assertion, delivered this time on the banks of the Bosphorus, that his is a team of novices. The Portuguese’s suggestion that Chelsea remain in a “special period”, gaining experience from collisions against gnarled campaigners such as Galatasaray, prompted snorts of incredulity from the Turkish media and a rather weary, heard-it-all-before smile from Roberto Mancini. The Gala coach begged to differ. “They have fantastic players who are used to playing games like this,” he offered. “They are 80% to go through. Yes, I said 80%, not 18%.” Continue reading

Chelsea and British Consulate investigate fan stabbings in Istanbul

Chelsea’s security advisers and the British Consulate in Turkey are working together to ascertain the circumstances that led to two travelling supporters being stabbed in apparently separate incidents around the same bar in Istanbul on the eve of the club’s Champions League meeting with Galatasaray. Continue reading

• Why the edgy, angry, barbed Roy Keane makes compulsive viewing

Roy Keane appears to be making a success of his career in punditry, if the object of the exercise is to stand out from the crowd and get yourself talked about. The former Manchester United captain was not only withering about the clueless performance against Olympiakos in Athens – with good reason – he went on to be withering about the “flat” performance of Michael Carrick in a post-match interview. This led Mrs Carrick to call him a rude name in a tweet she later deleted, blaming her emotions for getting the better of her, so it can easily be seen that ITV has hired someone out of the common run in Keane. Continue reading

• David Moyes’ position at Manchester United remains secure

David Moyes‘s position as Manchester United manager remains secure despite the dismal 2-0 defeat by Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday evening. In a season of disappointing results during the Scot’s inaugural campaign in charge, the manner of the loss against the Greek champions at the Karaiskakis Stadium, in which they managed only a single shot on target, was a new low for United. Continue reading

Drop your questions in the comments sections below. Enjoy the webchat.


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