TEHRAN (Iran News) – Reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid host Borussia Monchengladbach in the pivotal final game of the Champions League group stage on Wednesday night.
Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk make up the remainder of a finely poised group in which all four teams can still qualify for the knockout rounds. Real trail group leaders Gladbach by one point and can guarantee a 24th consecutive season of Champions League football after Christmas with a victory in midweek.
Marco Rose’s Monchengladbach only needs a draw to qualify. A share of the spoils would see both Madrid and the Foals advance if Inter beat Shakhtar at San Siro, but given the Serie A side’s shaky record in the competition of late, Zinedine Zidane’s Spanish champions can hardly pin their hopes on the Nerazzurri.
Madrid should be able to welcome back their talismanic captain Sergio Ramos, who has returned to training, after five games bound to the stands following an injury he sustained on international duty in November.
However, the 13-time European Cup winners will be missing energetic midfielder Federico Valverde and are likely to be without Eden Hazard after yet another fitness setback. Both Dani Carvajal and Mariano Diaz are also doubts for Los Blancos.
Rose is likely to reinstate Marcus Thuram – scorer of two goals the last time the sides met in October – to Borussia Monchengladbach’s lineup after starting the French forward on the bench on the weekend. Left-back Ramy Bensebaini is unlikely to feature as he recovers from illness and Jonas Hoffman is also sidelined with a thigh injury.
The Foals are also set to be without their brilliantly consistent center-back Nico Elvedi who has missed the last two games with a muscle injury.
Madrid’s sequence of results this season suggests Zidane wasn’t wrong when he described the attitude of his players earlier in the campaign: “When they have to turn it on, they turn it on.” On each of the three occasions Madrid have gone into a fixture following two winless games, they have prevailed; beating Barcelona, Inter and Sevilla all away from home.
They may go into Wednesday’s match off the back of a win but it is most certainly an instance where Madrid’s players ‘have to turn it on’. However, Gladbach have proven themselves to be anything but hapless bystanders in this European campaign and will pose a number of questions Madrid have struggled to answer in recent weeks.
A draw seems a likely outcome but whether that is enough to send Madrid through depends on Inter’s result against Shakhtar.
- source : 90Min