Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Tuesday 9th Dec, 2014, 20:45 CET
Real Madrid host Ludogorets in their final group game of Champions League today and Carlo Ancelotti’s men will have chance to create two new records when they enter the pitch of Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid have already secured their place in the next round of Champions League and Los Blancos are arguably the most in-form team of the world at the moment. Carlo Ancelotti is expected to give chance to his fringe players in this game as Ludogorets are not expected to pose any serious challenge to his men.
Meanwhile, Ludogorets are in the fourth place but they still have an outside chance to qualify for the Europa League and Coach Georgi Dermendjiev will be hoping to end his Champions League campaign on a positive note by securing a respectable result against Real Madrid.
Real Madrid have already secured their place for the next stage of UEFA Champions League but they have a chance to create two new records by beating Ludogorets today.
Real Madrid have equaled the record of FC Barcelona of winning consecutive (18) games and they can create history today by winning their 19th game in a row. Another record which is in sight of coach Carlo Ancelotti’s men is that of qualifying for next round by winning all their 6 group games. FC Barcelona, PSG, AC Milan, Spartak Moscow and Real Madrid themselves have qualified in the past by winning all group games but Los Blancos can become the first team to achieve this feat twice.
Keeping upcoming Club World Cup in mind, Carlo Ancelotti is expected to rest some of his regular starters for this game and the likes of Varane, Arbeloa, Chicharito, Keylor Navas, Sami Khedira and Jesse could get the opportunity to impress the coach.
Real Madrid defence looked vulnerable at the start of this campaign but there is a visible improvement now and Carlo Ancelotti could decide to rest Carvajal and Pepe and start Alvaro Arbeloa and Raphael Varane to give them much needed playing time.
Luka Modric and James Rodriguez, who have become the undisputed starters for Real Madrid this season, are out with injury and Carlo Ancelotti could start the game with Isco and Sami Khedira. Asier Illaramendi will most certainly maintain his place in the starting XI following his impressive display against Celta Vigo.
Karim Benzema is enjoying a stellar campaign this season but Carlo Ancelotti could opt to give him a rest today and give Chicharito a rare playing opportunity.
Carlo Ancelotti, speaking in a press conference ahead of a game against Ludogorets, confirmed that he will make some changes in the starting XI, but he also confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo is going to play in this game.
Carlo Ancelotti said: “We know that they are going to fight to the last and we’re ready for the match. The key is to play with intensity. We know that they are going to fight hard and put in a good match, and we’re ready for that. In our first meeting in the group, they showed a lot of speed up front and a dangerous counter-attack.”
“Tomorrow morning we’ll have a small training session and we’ll look at the physical condition of our players. If any player hasn’t recovered well, he won’t play, but I think that Cristiano Ronaldo is going to play against Ludogorets.”
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3) – Keylor Navas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Sami Khedira, Asier Illaramendi, Isco; Gareth Bale, Chicharito, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ludogorets currently sit at the bottom of their Champions League group but they still have a chance to qualify for UEFA Europa League if they beat Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu. But the task ahead of coach Georgi Dermendjiev is etrmely difficult as Real Madrid, even without the likes of Luka Modric and James Rodriguez, are looking extremely powerful and it would be a big surprise if they avoid a defeat at noisy Santiago Bernabeu tonight.
Biggest concern ahead of Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendjiev at the moment is his leaky defence. Ludogorets have conceded 10 goals in 5 games of Champions League so far and he will be hoping for a stellar performance from the likes of Minev and Moti as it has become almost impossible to stop Cristiano Ronaldo from scoring nowadays.
The current form of Ludogorets is impressive as they are undefeated in previous 6 games but playing at Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid is a different ball game altogether and it will take a special effort to defeat the current European champions in their own backyard.
Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1) – Toyanov; Aleksandrov, Minev, Moti, Caiçara; Espinho, Dani Abalo; Misidjan, Dyakov, Marcelinho; Bezjak.
Player To Watch Out For
Isco did not play in Real Madrid’s last game against Celta Vigo due to an injury but he is certain to start today as he is fit now. Isco is enjoying a breakthrough campaign under Carlo Ancelotti and he is more than capable of controlling the tempo of the game in the absence of Modric and James.
Real Madrid 3-0 Ludogorets
Even in the absence of many of their regular starters, Real Madrid are much more powerful than Ludogorets in every aspect of the game. Expect Carlo Ancelotti’s men to qualify for the next round in style today.