GALATASARAY - BAYER LEVERKUSEN
Bayern Munich aside, oh and newcomers Hoffenheim of course, no Bundesliga teams have impressed me this season and I am delighted to see Galatasaray, whom I rate very highly at the moment, at level level ball today. This is a mini tournament played in Antalya, but has always, there will be a huge number of Gala gans there to cheer their heroes, in the other "semi" yesterday, Bursapor beat Bremen 1-0 and will play the winner on Tuesday.
Leverkusen have at least six players missing from their squad (several would be termed key), including three with flu and there is no way to be sure, if any other players are affected by the bug. They resumed training after the winter break on January 3rd and are looking to peak, for the end of the month, they have been working very hard in the last 2-3 days and are almost certain to be very "leggy" today.
The Turkish side are in excellent shape and come here on the back of six straight wins in all competitions, scoring three or more in four of these, the other two were a 1-0 win at Hertha in the UEFA Cup and a 2-1 win at Altay in the domestic cup on Thursday. The last of which will have left them primed for today, they fell a goal behind midway through the first half, but attacked non stop afterwards and the goals were always going to come, despite a missed penalty and inspired display from home keeper Gokhan Erdi. Their winter break was much shorter, only ten days in total and served as a chance to recharge their batteries, rather than to completely switch off. Star player Lincoln, who was in great form before Christmas, did not play at Altay, but has since joined the squad and is likely to play some part in the tournament. He forms part of a very strong team including Baros, Meira and Kewell, although the latter is not currently available. This is a team I expect to do very well domestically and also in Europe during 2009 and we will be discussing them again in the near future. They are coached by Michael Skibbe and he will surely be looking for the win today, after being dismissed by Bayer last season, despite what he might say publicly, what could be sweeter than to beat the team that sacked him ?
7.5 points Galatasay level ball 1.82 asian line.... now 1.73