The UEFA Champions League quarter-final field is set. Real Madrid draws Galatasaray and will open the two-legged tie at the Santiago Bernabéu in the first week of April with the return leg in Istanbul the week that follows.
Power to the people (or the majority at least). You got what you wanted as Real Madrid and Galatasaray were the third and fourth teams drawn out of the pot, respectively. Former blanco, Steve McManaman, joked he had given his former club tough matchups up to this point, as he drew Madrid into the 'Group of Death' that featured three other league champions, followed by a Round-of-16 tie with Manchester United. Today's draw had a much more welcome reception.
On the surface, Galatasaray seems to be the 'easiest' matchup for Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. The two-legged tie will have its challenges, nonetheless. On the other side awaits a gritty squad headed by Didier Drogba and former Madrid orchestrator, Wesley Sneijder. Both players will demand the respect from their counterparts on the pitch, as they are likewise highly respected by the Madrid fanbase here at Managing Madrid.
Apart from the tangible challenge on the pitch, there is the added difficulty of playing in Turkey for the return leg. Historically, the Turkish sides really get up for a big European night, and there's no bigger European night than when los Blancos come into town. Madridistas have to look no further than the last time Real Madrid traveled to Galatasaray for a Champions League quarter-final. Galatasaray pulled off one of the most historic comebacks in Champions League memory overturning a two-goal deficit in the second half to win 3-2 in 2001.
Update: The first leg is scheduled for April 3rd and the return on April 9th.