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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Zaha can exact more revenge on United in testing trip –

Wilfried Zaha has the chance to end former club Manchester United’s Champions League tonight. 

The winger endured an unhappy spell at Old Trafford before returning to Crystal Palace and establishing himself as a club legend. 

He moved to Galatasaray in the summer and has begun to show how effective he can be over the past month. 

We put Zaha under the spotlight ahead of United’s trip to the Turkish giants.

Revenge mission

Group A of the Champions League is wide open, with Copenhagen, Galatasaray and United all still able to qualify for the last 16 alongside Bayern Munich. 

Gala are likely to move into second place if they win on Wednesday, which would also see them end the Red Devils’ hopes of making the knockout stage. 

Zaha has already exacted some revenge on his former club having scored his first Champions League goal in a 3-2 win for his new team in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. 

The Ivory Coast international only made four appearances for United following his transfer to the club in 2013. 

Many years later, it is now clear that they let a gem slip through their grasp, with Zaha showing his ability at Palace and now Galatasaray. 

After arriving at his new side with an injury issue, he has established himself as an attacking threat, scoring six times and assisting twice more in 15 games. 

Team-mate praise

Zaha has been particularly potent of late, with his last three appearances in the Super Lig yielding four goals and an assist from his position on the left wing. 

Someone who knows the 31-year-old better than most is Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who could be tasked with marking his former team-mate. 

They were colleagues at Palace and the right-back has spoken about his relationship with Zaha. 

Wan-Bissaka said: “We’re still in contact. When I saw the draw, I thought about it. 

“I’m happy for him to go out there [to Turkey] and he’s playing well for them now. 

“I think he’s enjoying it. He’ll just be looking forward to the competition in that different league and also in the Champions League. 

“Even from when I was training with him at Palace, I respected him a lot. That was the battle we had. That helped me as a player as well. 

“You just never know with him and you have just got to be prepared.” 

Top level

Wilfried Zaha is now scoring regularly for Galatasaray

Zaha’s career never quite hit the heights that his talent suggested was possible. 

Eyebrows were raised when he joined Galatasaray but the lure of the Champions League was a big pull.

Zaha said: “It’s not even the game, it’s the build-up. On the coach, we were playing the Champions League music. It’s a different feeling. I’ve finally made it here. 

“There’s nothing like it, playing between the best, the chance to showcase my talent against the best. 

“I feel like it’s where it’s decided whether you’re good or not.” 

Zaha’s quality has long been clear and now he has the platform to prove it. 

Revenge is a dish best served cold and United’s former benchwarmer may serve them another taste of it in the red-hot atmosphere of Istanbul.

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