Few anticipated Galatasaray to come away with anything from their Europa League last-16 first-leg match at Camp Nou, but the Turkish team came away with a well-earned 0-0 draw.
Xavi Hernandez’s team have won four consecutive games in all competitions, and it was expected that they would have an easy time against Domenec Torrent’s side, who sit 12th in the Turkish Super Lig and lost 2-0 at Konyaspor last weekend.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, put on a defensive masterclass. Barcelona came out of the fire and looked to make life tough for the visitors right on, but Marcao made his presence felt early on, appearing to go to every ball and making vital blocks.
Barcelona’s finest opportunity of the first half came in the 27th minute when Memphis Depay’s 25-yard free-kick forced a brilliant save from Galatasaray’s Inaki Pena, who is on loan from Barcelona.
After nine minutes, the Turkish team came close to taking the lead. On one of Galatasaray’s counter-attacks, Kerem Akturkoglu was able to sneak behind Sergino Dest and Frenkie de Jong before getting a shot away, but Eric Garcia threw his body in the way and the ball went behind for a corner.
Xavi was plainly unhappy with what he saw in the first half, making three substitutions at halftime, replacing Ferran Torres, Nico Gonzalez, and Ronald Araujo with Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique.
Barcelona would continue to push forward with additional players, but Galatasaray’s superb defense remained steadfast. Sacha Boey and Patrick van Aanholt, both full-backs, stood out with Marcao.
Jordi Alba’s volley in the 62nd minute went just beyond Inaki Pena’s post. After that, Barcelona struck the post 13 minutes later. On the right-hand side of the box, Adama Traore displayed fast feet before sending a cross into the center, which was touched on by Pedri and then acrobatically fired towards goal by Aubameyang, with De Jong getting the last contact on the ball, but it bounced back out off the post.
In the 78th minute, Galatasaray believed they had scored a shock winner when Van Aanholt’s pass in behind the Barcelona defense resulted in second-half replacement Bafetimbi Gomis blasting past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, but he was rightly deemed to have been a yard offside.
Galatasaray were nervous in the last minutes, but they held on to set up a thrilling second leg at the Turk Telekom Arena on Thursday evening.