Reigning European champions Real Madrid will be hosted by minnows APOEL Nicosia at the GSP Stadium tonight for their fifth Group H game.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are just coming off a frustrating 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. They now find themselves a solid 10 points behind league leaders Barcelona and will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
APOEL on the other hand, are coming off 2 good victories and confidence will be high around the GSP Stadium. They now find themselves 6th on the table, 9 points behind league leaders Anorthosis Famagusta. They are currently bottom of the table, behind Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.
Team News & Tactics
The Cypriots are expected to field a near identical starting XI that beat Omonia Nikosia last week. Nauzet Perez is expected to retain his place in goal, as are Roberto Lago, Jesus Rueda, Carlao and Praxitelis Vouros. Nektarios Alexandrou is also a possible contender for left-back.
Nuno Morais is expected to hold on to his place in midfield and he is likely to be joined by Vinicius, who will be replacing Roland Sallai. Ghayas Zahid is expected to start on the left flank with Efstathios Aloneftis coming in on the right. Lorenzo Ebecilio will likely start in a central attacking midfield role, in behind striker Mickael Pote.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Nauzet Perez; Praxitelis Vouros, Carlao, Jesus Rueda, Roberto Lago; Nuno Morais, Vinicius; Efstathios Aloneftis, Lorenzo Ebecilio, Ghayas Zahid; Mickael Pote
Zidane is expected to take this opportunity to rest a few players, despite missing out on the likes of Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas. Kiko Casilla will likely start in goals, while Nacho Hernandez is expected to come to sub in for Ramos in the center of defence.
Marcelo will likely start at left-back, however Zidane has a choice to make between Dani Carvajal and Achraf Hakimi. The Spaniard started his first game since his return against Atletico and it remains to be seen whether Zidane chooses to play him for a second game in the space of 4 days.
Dani Ceballos could come in place of Toni Kroos in midfield alongside Casemiro and Luka Modric. Isco is expected to retain his place in attacking midfield with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema upfront. Marco Asensio may start in attack ahead of the Frenchman.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kiko Casilla; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Nacho Hernandez, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Dani Ceballos; Isco; Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
- Real Madrid have scored a minimum of 3 goals against APOEL Nicosia in their last 3 matches.
- Real Madrid have won their last 3 matches against APOEL Nicosia.
- APOEL Nicosia has failed to win their last 5 matches in the UEFA Champions League.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is 4 goals away from scoring 100 Champions League goals for Real Madrid.
Player To Watch
The Portuguese endured yet another goalless 90 minutes against Atletico Madrid over the weekend. However, his troubles only seem restricted to the domestic game. In Europe he seems to be his usual self, having scored 6 in his 4 appearances in the competition this season.
Goals have come too few and far between for a man of his quality off late, his last strike was on the 5th of November. Ronaldo needs to get on the scoresheet on a regular basis to get his confidence and form up and he too will be undoubtedly desperate to make a big impact on this game.
APOEL Nicosia 0-3 Real Madrid
We predict yet another easy win for Zinedine Zidane’s men against APOEL. The Cypriots haven’t been in the best form this season and Real Madrid, even with their injuries woes shouldn’t be troubled by what they have to offer at home.
Los Blancos need a big result after last week’s draw and a comprehensive victory against George Donis’ men should help get their confidence up. However, APOEL can take confidence from their 2 draws against Borussia Dortmund and maybe try and put up a fight against the European Champions for their home fans. Given Real Madrid’s erratic form, they may even come away with an unlikely draw.