Burak Yilmaz’s return to fitness has provided a boost for Galatasaray as the Turkish side attempt to deal Benfica their first Champions League loss of the season on Wednesday.
Portuguese champions Benfica have taken two wins from two in Group C and produced a shock 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in their last encounter in the competition.
Rui Vitoria’s men now attempt to continue that run at the Turk Telekom Arena but face a tough task to keep Turkey striker Yilmaz at bay.
Yilmaz has 75 goals for Gala since joining from Super Lig rivals Trabzonspor in July 2012.
The 30-year-old had been out for almost a month because of a hamstring injury but made his comeback in Saturday’s 4-1 league win over Genclerbirligi.
Having come off the bench six minutes from time, Yilmaz rounded off a comfortable victory for Hamza Hamzaoglu’s men by scoring the fourth goal from the spot.
He will now look to use the confidence from that goal to hit top form for a Gala side in need of a victory to boost their hopes of progression to the last 16 having taken just one point from two group games.
Gala followed up a 2-0 home defeat to Atletico with a 2-2 draw at Astana and will hope that Yilmaz’s comeback will be enough to turn their continental fortunes around.
However, the hosts – who sit second in the Super Lig behind leaders Besiktas – are still without midfielder Hamit Altintop because of a knee injury.
For Benfica, defender Nelson Semedo and striker Nuno Santos are both unavailable with knee problems as the two-time European Cup winners aim to reach the knock-out rounds for the first time since 2012.
Key to Benfica’s hopes of maintaining their 100 per cent record in this season’s group stage will likely be Brazilian forward Jonas.
Jonas has seven goals in all competitions this campaign and he and Argentina midfielder Nicolas Gaitan – who has netted twice in the Champions League this term – should be confident of exploiting a Gala defence that has looked far from secure.
Gala are without a win in 10 European matches but, with a home record that has seen them lose only six of their last 22 games in continental football, the hosts can at least afford to have hope of halting Benfica’s momentum.
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