Having spent eight glorious years at Stamford Bridge the Ivory Coast international will now go against his former club for the first time. The 35 year old has established a legendary status at the Stamford Bridge having amassed an impressive 157 goals in 341 appearances for the Blues. His farewell to the club was nothing less than a fairy tale with Drogba winning the Champions League for Chelsea with his last touch after he scored the winning penalty in the final against Bayern Munich.
Chelsea’s fourth all time top scorer will however enter the field on Wednesday with a completely different ambition as he will aim for his side to qualify to the Quarter Final of the competition at the expense of his former employees.
This season has not been Drogba’s most prolific by his standards but the Ivorian has still managed to notch 12 goals so far and despite his growing age, Chelsea will do themselves a favour by not taking the 35 year old lightly.
However Chelsea have performed their defensive duties with aplomb and will be confident of keeping Drogba and co at bay. Chelsea have the meanest defence in the Premier League having conceded just 21 goals in the 27 matches they have played so far. The Blues also qualified from the group stages with one of the most resilient defences having conceded just thrice.
They will take confidence from their good recent form which has seen them losing just once in their last five matches, a streak which has allowed them to leapfrog Arsenal for the top spot in the league table. But despite of performing admirably, Jose Mourinho like always in an attempt to keep his side out of the limelight has claimed that Chelsea are not favourites to win the European competition.
“We are not favourites, that’s obvious,” he said when questioned about his side’s chances of winning the competition.
“When a team reaches the quarterfinals, anything is possible. I think this round is a very important round for every team because the teams that reach the quarter-finals can have a little feeling when they arrive in the quarterfinals.”
The Portuguese also referred to his success in European competitions in the past claiming that neither of his Champions League winning sides were favourites to win the tournament.
“Chelsea won it when they were not the favourite. I won it twice when I was not favourite [with FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010]. I didn’t win it when my team was one of the favourites to win it, so this competition has a bit of a space for a surprise.”
Chelsea will be hoping to avoid a similar fate to that of other English teams in the competition, all of whom have lost the first leg of the Round of 16 by a 2-0 score line. What should worry Jose Mourinho is the fact that his counterpart Roberto Mancini has fared well against Chelsea during his stint as manager of Manchester City.
As manager of the Citizens, Mancini won six of his nine matches against the Blues in all competitions and will be hoping to better his record over the two legs. He has also enjoyed a relatively successful campaign with Gala so far and will be hoping to make the most out of their good form.
The Cimbom are undefeated in their last five matches in all competitions and are currently second in the Super Lig table just four points behind leaders Fenerbahce. Mancini also did a commendable job in making his team qualify from a very difficult group which comprised of European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus and in their last match of the group stages Wesley Sneijder's solitary goal of the match against the Old Lady fired Gala to the next round of the tournament.
Chelsea will welcome back defender David Luiz as well as midfielder John Obi Mikel both of whom missed Chelsea’s 1-0 victory against Everton over the weekend. Brazilian international Oscar who suffered an ankle injury during the same match has been included in the squad and will travel to Istanbul. Whereas both of Chelsea’s winter signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are cup tied and will not be able to take part during Wednesday’s match.
Watch Galatasaray vs Chelsea live on Wednesday, February 26, 2014:
In Canada at 14:45 ET on Sportsnet World Online
Fans in Australia can catch the action live on ESPN3 Australia
For complete details of match listings and live scores, visit the Galatasaray vs Chelsea match page.