Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
2nd October, 2045 BST
FC Copenhagen celebrate their 150th appearance in Europe’s elite league by making the ominous trip to the Bernabeu Stadium in their second Group B match. This isn’t the best of time for Copenhagen to visit Madrid, as they may face a backlash from a hugely gifted Real Madrid team licking their wounds on the back of a derby defeat at the hands of cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti would be careful to avoid a second successive home defeat and would not take Copenhagen lightly, a side that took a point from Barcelona in the 2010-11 group stage.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Real would look to move to six points from two games after their 6-1 thrashing of Galatasaray on Matchday One. Much has changed since that fantastic away win, with Real slipping up against Atletico Madrid in the Madrid derby over the weekend. Ancelotti would look to make amends and ensure a repeat of that doesn’t happen in a game that should be easy to tackle for Los Blancos.
Cristiano Ronaldo, scorer of that hattrick against Galatasaray, is expected to be joined on the other side of the flanks by fit-again Gareth Bale. Bale came off the bench in the last game having recovered from thigh strain and should be well on his way to start the game against Copenhangen, replacing Angel Di Maria, the man responsible for the goal conceded to Atletico. Having taken the Champions League by taking the game to Inter Milan single handedly a few seasons ago, Bale would look to repeat his European form and try to steal the limelight from Ronaldo, who even now is the main man in the Spanish capital.
Iker Casillas could be given the nod ahead of Diego Lopez as a reaction to that derby day defeat. Casillas would like to grab the opportunity with both hands and cement himself firmly again in the Real Madrid first eleven. Defensively, Carlo Ancelotti has a selection dilemma – Raphael Varane is pushing for his first appearance of the season and Ancelotti must decide whether he should pair the talented youngster with Pepe or Sergio Ramos. If he goes with Pepe, Ramos may fill in at right back. However, it seems more likely that Pepe will be sacrificed, with Dani Carvajal slotting in at right back. Fabio Coentrao looks set to continue at left back as the game comes too soon for a recovering Marcelo.
Xabi Alonso is certain to miss out but Ancelotti must decide whether to continue with the Asier Illaramendi – Sami Khedira partnership in the middle of the park. The two didn’t work well together in the derby and Khedira may make way for the creative Luka Modric. Isco looks set to continue in the attacking midfield role. However, the biggest selection headache for the experienced Italian is who to pick as the forward to lead the attack. Karim Benzema has been his preferred choice so far, but has disappointed and Alvaro Morata could be given a chance against the Danes.
Probable starting Line up: Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao; Illaramendi, Modric, Isco, Bale, Morata, Ronaldo
The Danes couldn’t come to Madrid at a worst time. Mired in the relegation zone in the Danish League, Copenhagen will kick off their second game of Group B on the back of a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Brondby. To face a Madrid side eager to make amends from their own domestic failures over the weekend would be a tough ask of the Danish side. However, under the dark cloud is the silver lining. Copenhagen must take heart from their Matchday One result when they held Juventus to a 1-1 draw. A result like that at the Bernabeu would be a fitting way to cap their 150th European appearance.
Copenhagen have no fresh injury concerns and could field the same eleven that secured the credible draw against the Turin giants. Defensively they would rely on the experience of ex-Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg to keep the talented Madrid attack out.
Their attack however, would be confident of causing one or two problems to a Madrid defence that hasn’t been supreme so far. Daniel Braaten, Fanendo Adi and Nicolai Jorgensen are capable of troubling the Madrid defence. Madrid will be wary of such a threat and would look to be as solid as they can to shut the Danes out.
Proabable Starting Line Up: Wiland; Jacobsen, Mellberg, Bengtsson, Sigurdsson; Bolanos, Claudemir, Delaney; Braaten, Adi, Jorgensen
Player to watch out for
Gareth Bale might be the new Galactico in Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo is still the main man in the Madrid attack. Having already scored 9 goals in 8 games so far this season for Los Blancos, Ronaldo will look for a repeat of his Matchday One performance when he outclassed the Galatasaray defence with a hat-trick. Cutting in from the left, with Gareth Bale on the right and Isco to play those clever passes, Ronaldo will be the man the Copenhagen defence would be the most worried about. We leave you with a recap of his Matchday One performance away at Galatasaray.
Real Madrid 4-1 FC Copenhagen