Another cheating match to reconcile with the Bernabéu

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid forward. / Javier Soriano (Afp)

Group D | Day 4

Real Madrid aspires to assault the solo leadership of their group against Shakhtar, reversing their bad dynamics at home

Óscar Bellot

There was a time when Real Madrid could count on the magic of the Santiago Bernabéu to solve almost any mess, but when I step onto the La Castellana arena this Wednesday, 42 days will have passed since the last time they emerged victorious from their stadium. Villarreal and Osasuna both obtained draws in their league visits to a fiefdom that has only seen its owner beat twice since he reopened the doors after the long hiatus motivated by the pandemic and its pharaonic remodeling. And the Sheriff starred in one of the loudest European chimes that are remembered in his reunion with the music of the Champions League. Now it will be Shakhtar who will push the vulnerability as hosts of the Whites, forced to reverse their bad dynamics at home to try to assault the solo lead of Group D and put the move to the round of 16 almost definitively on track.

«It is a very important game. Winning or losing makes the situation change a lot. Losing a game like this would mean winning the next two and it complicates our lives. Instead, winning would mean that we would be very close to qualifying, which is the first goal of the first part of the season. The team is going to give it their all and does not fail mentally in this type of game, “proclaimed Carlo Ancelotti before another cheating match.

The ‘little hand’ that Real Madrid endorsed Shakhtar a couple of weeks ago at the Kiev Olympics has clarified the panorama of the thirteen-time king of Europe in his fetish competition, but a new setback would make him go back several squares and would bring two days late heart attack. To avoid this, the Whites need to regain their strength at home, a condition in which they have recorded three draws and five losses in their most recent thirteen European appearances.

Shakhtar himself can attest to that weakness, who Alfredo Di Stéfano performed last year on the opening day of the Champions League, before putting Concha Espina’s squad on the ropes in Kiev. Manchester City, Ajax, CSKA and Juventus also defeated the Santiago Bernabéu in the last five years, which saw Tottenham, Bayern, PSG and Bruges sign a draw on their trips to Chamartín in the same period of time.

“We have started very well because we scored a lot of goals and then we only scored one penalty goal. We are evaluating it, but we have to continue creating opportunities. We have to continue playing fast and vertical football and showing quality. This issue will be resolved soon, “replied Ancelotti when asked in the preview about the difficulties that Real Madrid is having against teams that close well behind and give him the baton at the Bernabéu.


For the stake with Shakhtar, the transalpine coach recovers Benzema, whom he gave rest against Elche, and will once again entrust Vinicius as the main threat to the defense of the mining team. The carioca signed his second great European night in Kiev with a double that sentenced the clash that he had paved in Kryvtsov’s own goal and aspires to endorse with another outstanding performance the extraordinary moment of form and confidence that he is going through. “It is at a spectacular level,” said his colleague Carvajal, who assured that they face each game “as a final” and only think about being “group leaders.”

Slit for Hazard

The Leganés side continues to accumulate kilometers after leaving his last injury behind and will once again form the seat belt with Militao, Alaba and Mendy. Ancelotti will also pull his triumvirate of bells in the center of the field and the only doubt resides in who will complete the offensive trident with Rodrygo out of the game due to the muscular problem he suffered at Martínez Valero. Asensio leaves with an advantage but Hazard persists for an opportunity. “You have to have faith that the moment will come,” said Ancelotti about the Belgian, whom Carvajal placed “among the ten best in the world” in optimal conditions. Bale, Ceballos and Valverde are still out, as well as Mariano, who broke his nose on the last day of the League and whom Ancelotti cited as an example of overcoming.

Shakhtar will not be able to count on Júnior Moraes, Traoré, Pedrinho or Konoplyanka for a match to which Roberto De Zerbi’s team arrives without margin of error. If he loses to Real Madrid and the Sheriff defeats Inter in Tiraspol, the current runner-up in the Ukrainian league will say goodbye to the remote options he has to qualify for the round of 16 after scoring only one point in the first three days and not having scored a single goal. “It does not matter that it is such a difficult rival, we will continue with our philosophy,” said the coach of the miners.

Probable lineups

  • Real Madrid:
    Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Asensio, Benzema and Vinicius.

  • Shakhtar:
    Trubin, Dodo, Marlon, Matviyenko, Ismaily, Maycon, Stepanenko, Marcos Antonio, Tete, Fernando and Solomon.

  • Referee:
    Benoit Bastien (Francia).

  • Hour:
    18:45 h.

  • Stadium:
    Santiago Bernabeu.

  • TV:
    Movistar Champions League.



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