Real Madrid CF
Arena Lviv, Ukraine
25th November, 2015, 20.45 CET
Real Madrid were probably served the most embarrassing El Clasico defeat since the infamous 5-0 loss under Mourinhoa s reign. Since then, the Clasico results have fluctuated both ways though Barcelona have been more consistent. However, no result has been as embarrassing for The Los Blancos’ as the 4-0 humiliation served on a platter at the Bernabeu by Neymar, Suarez and co.
The Spanish giants return to the pitch on Wednesday as Beniteza s men gear up to face Shakhtar Donetsk away from home. Having already qualified for the round-of-16, Real Madrida s only concern at the moment remains a first place finish before facing Paris-Saint Germain. However, looking at the bigger picture, Rafael Benitez will be under pressure to produce a convincing performance from his players as the ex-Liverpool manager has been a target of a lot of criticism in only four months of being at the club. A win will help him to at least breathe easy. However, it is highly unlikely that a win against an Ukranian side will be enough for the Spaniard to win the forgiveness of Madridista for the 4-0 drubbing by Barcelona at the Bernabeu.
Shakhtar Donetsk have managed to grab only one victory in the current UEFA Champions League campaign. It came against Malmo as the Ukranian side scored four goals, managed to keep a clean sheet and also lift themselves up to the third spot in the group. Though mathematically Shakhtar have a chance of clearing the group stage, it hardly seems a possibility as they will have to first defeat Real Madrid, hope that Paris Saint-Germain loses to Malmo and then defeat PSG themselves.
The Ukranian side however, has a strong case for qualifying for the Europa League though. A draw against Real Madrid at home is not hard to imagine as the visiting team have been struggling to find their feet. However, the possibility of them being the soft-target of Real Madrida s angst of Saturday nighta s defeat will also be a cause of concern for manager Mircea Lucescu.
Picking up a suspension in their victory over Malmo, captain Srna and Oleksandr Kucher will both sit out Wednesdaya s game. Shakhtar will also miss the services of Vitaliy Vitsenets as the striker is recovering from a knee injury.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Shevchuk, Rakitskiy, Ordets, Azevedo; Fred, Stepanenko; Marlos, Teixeira, Bernard; Gladkiy.
Real Madrid are expected to go all out in attack on Wednesday. Benitez will be determined to prove that he is capable of helming the high-profile Real Madrid side and he would like to show that his team are capable of playing attacking and attractive football. After a disastrous performance against Barcelona on Saturday, Real Madrid are expected to step up their game and live up to the expectations that are associated with the white stripes.
Benitez will be under the scanner and anything less than a resounding victory is bound to earn more flak for the former Napoli manager. Having his and the cluba s reputation at stake, the Spaniard will be keen to show a ferociously attacking as well as defensively solid Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Real Madrid will be without both the captain Sergio Ramos and vice captain Marcelo as the defensive duo recover for shoulder and thigh injury respectively. Kroos might be dropped and Casemiro may start the game in order to bring some defensive strength in the team.
. Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Danilo; Casemiro, Modric; James, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema;
Player to Watch Out For
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
The Colombian was probably the best player in white on Saturday in the El Clasico before being subbed-off for Isco. Having missed a fair portion of the season already, the game against Shakhtar gives James the perfect opportunity to regain his form.
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid may not be playing to the abilities and expectations associated with the club but they are still a very solid side. Los Blancos must be more than determined to show what they are made of after being the target of heavy criticism in a span of just three days. They will be vying for victory in order to further strengthen their position in the group.