Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Injury problems hamper Real ahead of Shakhtar clash

Xinhua
20 Oct 2020, 19:30 GMT+10

MADRID, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid kick off their Champions League campaign on Wednesday evening when they entertain Shakhtar Donetsk at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium and coach Zinedine Zidane has some tough decisions to make.

Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Cadiz highlighted once again Real Madrid's problems in attack, with Isco misfiring in an attacking midfield role and Karim Benzema invisible for most of the game.

The Real Madrid coach will probably bring Marco Asensio into his attack, while Rodrygo, who has fallen from favor in recent weeks, and Casemiro will also start against the experienced side from Ukraine.

The good news for the coach is that Sergio Ramos will be fit after being forced out at halftime at the weekend with a knee problem. Ramos was able to train on Monday and will be available if the coach needs him.

Right backs Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola are still out injured and Zidane has to decide whether to stick with Nacho Fernandez or to try winger Lucas Vazquez in a deeper role. Injuries to Martin Odegaard and Eden Hazard meanwhile reduce Madrid's options in attack.

An added problem for Zidane is his side's Champions League debut comes less than 72 hours before they take on FC Barcelona in the Camp Nou in the first 'Clasico' of the season.

Barca make their European debut 24 hours earlier against Ferencvaros, who in theory are much weaker than Shakhtar, and will allow Barca boss Ronald Koeman to rotate his squad, while an extra 24 hours preparation for the weekend is a clear advantage.

Zidane will have to juggle his side to ensure they are as sharp as possible in the Camp Nou and that could mean he doesn't risk Ramos, but instead gives minutes to Eder Militao. Luka Modric could also be rested.

Saturday is clearly a big game for Zidane after last weekend's upset, and a defeat would see questions asked about his leadership, but first of all he needs his side to perform well on Wednesday in order to travel with confidence.

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