Europa League round of 16: Barcelona to host Galatasaray as Xavi’s Catalans revive

Alaa Moustafa
3 Min Read

Five matches will be played in the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday. The excitement will start at the Camp Nou Stadium where Spain’s Barcelona will face Turkish Galatasaray.

Spanish Seville will also host English side West Ham United at the Ramon Sanchez Stadium, while Scotland’s Rangers will clash with Red Star Belgrade. Moreover, Sporting Braga will meet the French team Monaco, while Italy’s Atlanta will play German Bayer Leverkusen.

Five-time European champions Barcelona are still adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings of the continent’s secondary competition after crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage for the first time in 18 years.

The past few years have been rough on the Catalans, but it was finally Xavi who cracked the code. Confidence now seems to ooze out of every player’s veins, and the team finally has a direction.

The Blaugrana are now unbeaten in their last eight games and have scored 22 goals in the process. They are now on a four-game winning streak and could not be more confident heading into the Europa League clash against Galatasaray. Barcelona will want to get a sizeable advantage at home against Domenec Font’s side, especially after failing to secure a lead over Napoli at home in the last round.

Five players from the Catalan team are expected to miss the game, namely: Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Umtiti, Alejandro Baldi, and Moussa Wagi.

Barcelona qualified to the round of 16 after beating the Italian team Napoli. The last time Barcelona met Galatasaray was in the 2002/03 season, when the Catalans defeated the Turkish giant 2-0 in the first leg, and then 3-1 in the second leg of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (UCL).

It will be the first time that the two teams meet in a knockout stage, as all of their previous four UCL matches were in the group stage.

The first confrontation between the two teams was in the 1993/94 season, which ended in a goalless draw. In the second game, Barcelona won 3-0. In the following season, each of them won 2-1 on their respective home grounds.

Outside the UCL, Galatasaray met Barcelona four times; they tied once 2-2, and Barcelona won the other three games by 1-0, 2-0, and 3-1.

In total, the two teams played eight matches, Barcelona won five, Galatasaray won one, and two matches ended in a draw. The Catalans scored 14 goals against Galatasaray, and conceded six.

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