- Manchester United are in Istanbul for crucial meeting with Galatasaray
- But torrential rain and thunderstorms have left the match in the balance
- Was Garnacho’s overhead kick REALLY the greatest ever? Listen to the debate on It’s All Kicking Off
Manchester United will have to deal with a saturated pitch as well as a fearsome atmosphere if their crucial Champions League clash with Galatasaray on Wednesday night goes ahead.
Istanbul has been hit by torrential rain and thunderstorms on matchday, leaving the playing surface at RAMS Park covered with enormous puddles.
UEFA officials are inspecting the pitch and are satisfied the match, which kicks off at 5.45pm UK time and 8.45pm local time, will proceed as scheduled.
However, the pitch will have to absorb a good deal more water yet before the start with the weather forecast showing more heavy rain and storms to come – meaning the situation could change.
A photograph posted on X by ESPN reporter Rob Dawson showed the state of the sodden surface at the 52,600 capacity stadium, with officials wielding umbrellas as they inspected the pitch.
A photograph posted on X by ESPN reporter Rob Dawson showed large puddles of water on the RAMS Park pitch just a few hours before Galatasaray’s game with Manchester United
The official Galatasaray X account posted a picture of the torrential rain at RAMS Park which could put Wednesday evening’s clash with Manchester United in doubt
The Istanbul weather forecast shows the rain and storms are expected to continue pre-match
United’s players pictured at Manchester Airport on Tuesday as they headed to Istanbul
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A further video posted by Turkish newspaper Fanatik showed a worrying lack of bounce and movement when a ball was thrown onto the wet pitch.
Even Galatasaray’s official English language account acknowledged the ‘rain continues to lash down’ in the hours ahead of kick-off.
United’s under-19 team got a foretaste of the soggy conditions as they lost 1-0 to their Galatasaray counterparts in the UEFA Youth League earlier on Wednesday.
Their game, played across town at the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Stadium in Kasimpasa, took place in pouring rain.
Any postponement would wreak havoc with both teams’ schedules. Erik ten Hag’s side are due to play Newcastle United at St James’ Park in the Premier League on Saturday night.
Article 27.01 of the UEFA regulations states any postponed game should ideally be played the following day, meaning United would have a very short turnaround before their trip to Tyneside.
They state: ‘If a match cannot start or cannot be played in full, the full or remaining match time is, as a rule, played on the next day, without prejudice to any possible disciplinary measures.
Man United’s Under 19 side lost 1-0 to Galatasaray in the UEFA Youth League this afternoon
The game took place in biblical conditions amid several torrential downpours in Istanbul
‘For that purpose, the home clubs must conclude all the necessary agreements to ensure that the required facilities are available and can be operated.
‘If the match cannot be rescheduled the next day, the UEFA administration fixes a new date, during a reserve date or other date. The rescheduling may entail exceptions to the regular match calendar (see Annex C).
‘As a rule, a rescheduled match is played at the same venue. If the circumstances require a change of venue, the UEFA administration must approve the alternative venue.’
Galatasaray travel away to Pendikspor in the Turkish Super Lig on Saturday evening.
United sit bottom of Champions League group A having lost three of their opening four games – including 3-2 to Galatasaray at Old Trafford.
Defeat in Istanbul would see Ten Hag’s side out of the Champions League and not assured of the Europa League consolation prize ahead of their matchday six fixture with Bayern Munich.
A draw wouldn’t eliminate them but would leave them needing to beat Bayern and reliant on the result in the other game between Copenhagen and Galatasaray.
Group A – Bayern Munich, FC Copenhagen, Galatasaray, Man United