Galatasaray stunned Camp Nou in the first leg last week, holding Barcelona to a scoreless draw to bolster their chances of reaching the Europa League quarter-finals.
The Turkish heavyweights are experiencing a thoroughly disappointing domestic season, and they have an opportunity to make up to their fans by crashing Barca out of the Europa League round of 16.
Domenec Torrent’s side will turn up in a confident mood after overcoming fierce league rivals Besiktas 2-1 on Monday as they look to maintain their hopes of a first European trophy in 22 years.
However, Barcelona looked unfazed by an underwhelming first-leg stalemate last weekend as they put lowly Osasuna to the sword 4-0 at home.
Galatasaray enjoyed a stellar Europa League Group E campaign, finishing top of the section without losing a single group fixture (W3, D3) while keeping four clean sheets in the process.
After making it five shutouts from seven matches in the Europa League proper this term, they are aiming to improve their lacklustre home record against Spanish visitors in European competition (W6, D2, L8).
But before eking out a draw at Camp Nou, Galatasaray had suffered six consecutive defeats against La Liga opponents by an aggregate score of 21-2.
While their recent fortunes against the Spaniards could discourage the Turks’ efforts to stage an upset here, they can rely on their impressive 75% conversation rate across two-legged ties in which they drew the first leg on the road (W9, L3).
Barcelona’s 5-3 aggregate triumph over Napoli in their blockbuster Europa League play-off tie made the Catalan faithful forget about the Blaugrana’s first Champions League group stage elimination in 20 years.
Xavi’s men are now hunting the only European trophy Barca have never managed to acquire, and after racking up four victories from their last five road trips (D1), they are in a prime position to maintain that dream.
Yet, the resurgent La Liga heavyweights can ill-afford to underestimate Galatasaray in this one, especially considering their indifferent European record away to Turkish clubs (W3, D1, L3).
Furthermore, Barcelona’s 4-2 success in Naples in the return leg of their Europa League last-32 tie made it only two wins from their last 12 springtime European matches outside Camp Nou (D4, L6).
In addition to the ex-Barcelona ace Arda Turan, Galatasaray will likely be without Kaan Arslan, Halil Dervisoglu, Ismail Cipe, Baris Yilmaz and Alpaslan Ozturk.
After picking up a knock against Osasuna, Gerard Pique has joined the likes of Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Roberto and Ansu Fati on the sidelines.
Xavi, who has welcomed Gavi back from European suspension on the eve of this trip, remains hopeful of having his first-choice defender recovered in time.
Galatasaray Potential Starting XI:
(4-2-3-1): Inaki Pena; Sacha Boey, Marcao Teixeira, Victor Nelsson, Patrick van Aanholt; Taylan Antalyali, Berkan Kutlu; Emre Kilinc, Sofiane Feghouli, Kerem Akturkoglu; Mostava Mohamed.
Barcelona Potential Starting XI:
(4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergino Dest, Donald Araujo, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba; Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Gavi; Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres.
Galatasaray vs Barcelona Prediction
A lack of ruthlessness cost Barcelona dearly in the first leg. Yet, Xavi’s attacking options look so intimidating that we have no other choice but back the Blaugrana to make up for all the misses.
Galatasaray’s beleaguered defence stood firm in the first leg, but they are likely to be under siege at sold-out Nef Stadium as Barca are firing on all cylinders again.
Galatasaray 1-3 Barcelona
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