Santiago Bernabeu, Spain
15th September, 2014; 18:45 GMT
With Rafael Benitez replacing Carlo Ancelotti in the dug-out, Real Madrid kick off their Champions League campaign at home as they host Shakhtar Donetsk at Santiago Bernabeu.
Team News, Tactics and Line-up
Having won 0-6 against Espanyol, Real Madrid seem to be finding their rhythm under Benitez after having scored 11 goals in their last two outings. Despite a slow start by his own high standards, Cristiano Ronaldo put 5 past Espanyol in order to overtake Raul as the highest goal-scorer in the La Liga for Madrid. The Portuguese will be looking to make an emphatic start in the Champions League and will be well-assisted by the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are expected to dictate the proceedings against Shakhtar with Gareth Bale operating in a No 10 role. Even though James Rodriguez has picked up an injury following his outing with the national team, Real Madrid are not expected to miss the Colombian in their opening Champions League fixture. Benzema is likely to lead the teama s attack with Ronaldo and Isco providing the ammunition from the wings.
With Danilo ruled out due to an injury, Carvajal is expected to start in the defence alongside Marcelo and Varane. Sergio Ramos picked up an injury against Espanyol and is likely to be rested with Pepe taking his place in the starting line-up.
Known for his tendency to rotate the squad, the manager refused to reveal his preferred goal-keeper for the match while saying that the final decision will only be taken on the day of the match.
Expected Line-Up: Keylor Navas (GK); Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Carvajal; Modric, Kroos, Isco, Ronaldo, Bale; Benzema
Entering the Santiago Bernabeu as the obvious underdogs, Shakhtar will be keen on tightening up their defence in order to keep the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at bay. However, the Ukrainian side will be running high on confidence after registering a 5-0 win over Metalist Kharkiv on Friday.
Finishing second in their domestic campaign last season, Shakhtar had to fight for a place in the Champions League group stage and will be keen to progress to the next round despite the presence of PSG, Real Madrid and Malmo FF. Having lost two key players in Douglas Costa and Luiz Adriano, manager Mircea Lucescu will have a tough job dealing with the threat posed by Real Madrid.
Pyatov is expected to take his place between the posts for Shakhtar and will be assisted by Rakitsky, Ivan Ordets, Darijo Srna and Marcio Azevedo in the defence. Alex Teixeira is going to the focal point of their attack with the Brazilian having 9 goals to his name already this season. Marlos is expected to take his position on the right wing with Taison playing on the left. Gladky is likely to lead the teama s attack with Fred and Stepanenko commanding the team from the midfield.
Shakhtar will be keen to avoid a heavy defeat at Santiago Bernabeu and will look to sit deep and close down the space in order to choke Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Expected Line-Up: Pyatov; Rakitsky, Ordets, Srna, Azevedo; Fred, Stepanenko, Taison, Marlos, Teixeira; Gladky
- Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk have together scored a total of 11 goals over the last weekend.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 231 goals in the La Liga in just 203 outings.
Player To Watch Out For
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the player to watch out for. Scoring 5 goals against Espanyol, the Portuguese seems intent on dismissing criticism suggesting a decline in his form. Supported by Gareth Bale who is being used just behind the striker by Benitez, Ronaldo is likely to strike up an important partnership with the Welshman infront of the goal.
Fast, accurate and with a nose for the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of decline as he enters his 7th season with Real Madrid.
Real Madrid 4-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
In their current form, Real Madrid are expected to cruise to a win against Shakhtar as Cristiano Ronaldo and company look to continue their goal-scoring fiesta.
Blast From The Past