Real Madrid flew to Kiev on Monday ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk, hoping to avoid a repeat of the two defeats in last season’s group stage. Real are already in trouble after a shock defeat to minnows Sheriff Tiraspol in the last round.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men travel to Ukraine after their La Liga game at home to Athletic Bilbao was postponed to allow their South American players more time to recover after the international break, and that means it will be 16 days since their last game.
The break may have done Ancelotti’s men some good, given that they had entered into a mini-crisis ahead of the break with a 2-1 defeat to Espanyol on the back of a 0-0 draw at home to Villarreal and a shock defeat to Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League.
The defeat to Sheriff has complicated what had looked like a straightforward Champions League group phase for Real Madrid after Rodrygo’s late goal had given them a 1-0 win away to Inter Milan in their opening game.
Now they have to bring a positive result back from Ukraine to avoid complications further down the line.
Although Shakhtar have taken just one point from their first two group games, that was a 0-0 draw at home to Inter, and nobody at Real Madrid will have forgotten that they twice defeated the Spanish side in last season’s group stage, reports Xinhua.
Those two defeats went a long way towards eroding the confidence of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez in Zinedine Zidane, and failure to win on Tuesday would increase the pressure on Ancelotti after recent results.
The Italian has good and bad news on the injury front, with central defenders David Alaba and Eder Militao able to travel after recent injury problems, while left-backs Ferland Mendy and Marcelo are also included in the squad.
However, Eden Hazard is out again after picking up yet another muscle problem on international duty, and Gareth Bale continues to recover from his hamstring injury.
In the other matches on Tuesday, Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain will host Germany’s RB Leipzig; Manchester City travel to Club Brugge for a key clash, Besiktas host Sporting Lisbon; Atletico Madrid host Liverpool while Inter Milan host FC Sheriff Tiraspol.