Real Madrid hosted Galatasaray for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals in a match that all but guaranteed Real Madrid’s spot in the Semi-Finals.
Jose Mourinho named a strong squad for the match with one surprise: Michael Essien would start at right-back ahead of Alvaro Arbeloa. Other than that, things were pretty much as expected. The starting eleven consisted of: Diego Lopez, Michael Essien, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos [C], Fabio Coentrao, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Gonzalo Higuain.
It only took 9 minutes for Real Madrid to open the scoring as a great pass from Mesut Ozil saw Cristiano Ronaldo ready to get the ball over Fernando Muslera and into the back of the net. Slowly, Galatasaray were able to get into the game and a great opportunity by Didier Drogba was brilliantly saved by Diego Lopez. As the Turks were finding their footing in the game, Los Merengues did not give them any more time as a long cross by Michael Essien found Karim Benzema, who was able to make it 2-0 on the 30 minute mark.
The second half began and automatically Galatasaray manager, Fatih Terim, made a change by taking Wesley Sneijder off. That slightly changed the flow of the game and also helped the Turkish team defensively. Offensively, they had more opportunities but chances by Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Drogba, and Burak Yilmaz were either off-target or saved by Diego Lopez. With a two-goal advantage, Real Madrid could afford to sit back and hit Galatasaray on the counter.
And then, on the 73rd minute, Real Madrid were able to get the goal that all but sealed their ticket to the next round as a free kick by Xabi Alonso found the head of Gonzalo Higuain, who was able to make it 3-0.
A great score for Real Madrid to take with them to Istanbul on April 9 as they will be without the services of Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso, as they are both suspended for the second leg.