Football Nostalgia

Man United v Galatasaray 1993 – Remembering a terrifying thriller

Man United v Galatasaray 1993 – Old foes are reunited this week in a rerun of an iconic Champions League tie from the 1990’s. The first chapter in the Man United v Galatasaray H2H story was one that neither club would forget in a hurry.

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(Photo: Marco Galvão/Fotoarena/Sipa USA) – Photo by Icon sport

Man United v Galatasaray 1993 – a crazy three-for-all

Back in the autumn of 1993, the Premier League was only a year old and Manchester United had just won their first title in 26 years, sealing a long awaited return to the biggest European stage. However, English football was not the force it is today.

This battle was fought in an altogether more even era, due much to the effect of the five-year ban on English clubs from European competitions, following the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1985.

At that time, Marseille were the defending European champions, Red Star Belgrade had won the European Cup just two years previously and Galatasaray themselves had reached the last four in 1989, losing to Steaua Bucharest.

A competitive tie was therefore expected, but nobody could have foreseen the thriller that played out in the 1st Leg of the 2nd Round tie at Old Trafford. Having edged past Kispest Honvéd of Hungary in the previous round, United came steaming out of the blocks against the Turks with veteran midfielder Bryan Robson breaking the deadlock in just the 3rd minute. A young Hakan Şükür diverted the ball into his own net soon afterwards to put United in command.

However, their opponents came roaring back with Arif Erdem almost immediately halving the deficit with a long-range screamer for Galatasaray. All of a sudden, United seemed rattled and the Turkish side fought back to lead 3-2 with two close range finishes from Kubilay Türkyilmaz taking advantage of uncertainty in the home defence.

There was still time for the English champions to grab a goal back though, with Eric Cantona’s late volley ensuring the sides headed to Istanbul level pegging.

Galatasaray vs Man United
Galatasaray fans welcome Manchester United players and officials to Istanbul at Ataturk Airport Photo : Ross Kinnaird / PA Images / Icon Sport

Man United v Galatasaray 1993 – ‘Welcome to Hell’

The defining image of the 1993 tie, which was for the right to enter the then eight-team group stage, was of the ‘Welcome to Hell’ signs which welcomed United to Istanbul and the infamous Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

The match, which failed to live up to the epic 1st leg, was played out in front of a hostile home crowd that roared their team through a tense 90 minutes of few chances. Galatasaray held on for a 0-0 draw to progress into the group stage and knock out United who had Eric Cantona sent off.

Man United v Galatasaray H2H record since

After another change in format, the clubs met again the following season in Group A of the 1994/95 Champions League. Again it finished goalless at the Ali Sami Yen, but United had their revenge with a 4-0 victory in the return fixture at Old Trafford, although it wasn’t enough to see them progress in the competition.

The next meetings weren’t until the 2012/13 group stage. By then English football was in an entirely different era, while United were closing in on a 20th league title. But a competitive Galatasaray side fought well, winning the home leg 1-0 and losing 1-0 in Manchester.

Galatasaray fans
Paul Ince, Manchester United pulls on his shirt as he enters the stadium in Istanbul in 1993. Photo: Ross Kinnaird / PA Images / Icon Sport

Then vs Now

While in 1993, Manchester United were the undisputed kings of England at the time and were well on their way to defending their Premier League title, the circumstances are very different 30 years on, with the Red Devils already well off the pace in the 2023/24 Premier League.

They do have much greater European experience at this point, although the same could be said of Galatasaray with the standard of Turkish football having rapidly developed over the past three decades.

Manchester United players
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes celebrates with teammates after scoring their sides first goal during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley on Saturday September 23, 2023. – Photo by Icon sport

The influx of foreign players has also radically changed the makeup of both squads when compared to 30 years ago with neither as dependent on homegrown talent as was the case then.

However the vast wealth of the Premier League means United will still be clear favourites when the sides meet this week in Manchester.

Man United v Galatasaray 2023 – One to watch

Galatasaray will have one man in their ranks who will be very familiar to fans of Manchester United. Wilfried Zaha is not only a former United player, but somebody who has frequently come back to haunt his old team. 

Wilfried Zaha
Wilfried Zaha of Galatasaray during the UEFA Champions League match between Galatasaray and F.C. Copenhagen on September 20, 2023. (Photo by SeskimPhoto ) – Photo by Icon sport

The winger has been on the winning side 4 times against the Red Devils, scoring 3 times including a brace in a 3-1 Crystal Palace win at Old Trafford in the 2020/21 season.

However Zaha has found game-time surprisingly hard to come by since his move to Turkey. A return to Old Trafford may be the perfect opportunity for the 30 year old to make his first big contribution as a Galatasaray player, although he may again only be used as an impact sub.

Overall, Manchester United’s superior quality should be telling on the night, and we’re going for them to win 2-1 with Marcus Rashford to score the first goal.

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