Real Madrid's meeting with Galatasaray in the Champions League is a clash between the competition's leading goalscorers. Peter Fraser looks at Burak Yilmaz's potential to eclipse Cristiano Ronaldo
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF
Last Updated: 03/04/13 8:54am
Cristiano Ronaldo is a man who requires little introduction. The Real Madrid superstar is argued by some to be the best footballer in the world and he is a global icon. In comparison, Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz is something of an unknown quantity.
The Turkey international might not generate the headlines of Ronaldo but he is undoubtedly a master striker. The pair sit joint top of this season's UEFA Champions League scoring charts on eight goals and, ahead of Wednesday's first leg at the Bernabeu, their two-legged quarter-final meeting could develop into a shootout.
This provides a clear indication of Yilmaz's talents, which have seen him linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Bayern Munich. He has outscored the much-heralded likes of Barcelona's Ballon d'Or - Lionel Messi, Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid's Karim Benzema and United's Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. But he receives nothing like the praise.
Didier Drogba, Yilmaz's new strike partner at Galatasaray since January, perhaps summed it up best when admitting he was in no doubt about his team-mate's skill. Drogba said: "We are lucky to have a player like Burak. What he does is not down to chance. He is a very talented player."
Yilmaz, 27, began his career at hometown club Antalyaspor in 2002 having come through their Academy. Next up came moves to Besiktas, Manisaspor, Fenerbahce, a loan at Eskisehirspor, and Trabzonspor. Then, in the summer of 2012, he joined Galatasaray in a bargain €5million (£4.3m) deal.
It was at Trabzonspor where Yilmaz found his shooting boots. Having been used out of position by previous clubs, often featuring in wide areas, he flourished in a central role. He fed on the service from Selcuk Inan and formed a lethal partnership with Umut Bulut, who are both now also at Galatasaray. In the 2011/12 Super Lig season, he scored a Trabzonspor record-breaking total of 33 goals in 34 games.
At Fatih Terim's Galatasaray, Yilmaz has continued to hone his goalscoring talents. The January arrivals of Drogba and Wesley Sneijder mean he is still not even the main attraction. But analysis of his statistics in this season's Champions League proves his standing as a worthy adversary for Ronaldo.
|Champions League 2012/13||Cristiano Ronaldo||Burak Yilmaz|
|Minutes On Pitch||720||675|
|Mins per goal||90||84|
|Shots On Target||23||16|
|Shots Off Target||15||11|
|Chances created (inc. Assists)||18||9|
|Mins per chance created||40||75|
|Pass Completion %||82%||76%|
|Dribbles & Runs||36||9|
|Dribble Completion %||47%||33%|
Yilmaz is a clinical goalscorer, bettering Ronaldo in terms of minutes-per-goal and chance conversion rate while also attempting far fewer shots than the trigger-happy Portuguese. Ronaldo can be described as the better all-round player, eclipsing Yilmaz in terms of chance creation, assists and dribbling. But Yilmaz's game is about power and precision in front of goal.
Some of the Turk's goals in this season's Champions League epitomise his assets - his direct running, strength and predatory touch inside the 18-yard box. This explains why he has been linked to some of Europe's leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
In the second leg of the last 16 tie against Schalke, he scored a wonderful solo effort on the break when lobbing past goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand. He had already demonstrated his finesse in the first leg with a stunning goal after flicking the ball over his marker before rifling a finish into the back of the net.
Meanwhile, Yilmaz's power was demonstrated against United in the group stages, when he secured a 1-0 win in Istanbul by converting a second-half corner. His hat-trick against Cluj, which included a superb header, a simple finish and a driven left-footer, earlier in the campaign encapsulated his game.
All eyes will be on Ronaldo, as usual, when the Champions League returns. But Real will underestimate Yilmaz at their peril. The man himself has targeted the semi-finals and his goalscoring nature means he will be a major threat. In his own words: "We can go on the pitch and fight like lions. We have already surpassed expectations."