We can get the starting XI conversation started early. Jose Mourinho went ahead and revealed his lineup for Wednesday's 20:45 CET kickoff.
Goalkeeper: Diego Lopez
Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Coentrão
Midfield: Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Ronaldo, Di Maria (hopefully)
The names listed aren't particularly surprising. Higuaín is preferred over Benzema. The only surprising element here is the timing of the revelation, although these two teams' familiarity with each other through their group stage meetings may make this a moot point.
Outside of the usual respectful comments for opposing team and coach, Mourinho said few things of note in his time at the mic. He does hope for an improvement in focus this time around versus the German side, as the four goals conceded to them in the group stage "were a result of mistakes we made." He also acknowledges his Madrid side is stronger than before, and one must agree. Although injuries to Marcelo, Luka Modric and Michael Essien, and a suspension being served by Álvaro Árbeloa leave los blancos a bit thin, the situation is much more manageable than the injury woes Madrid had when the two teams met earlier in the campaign.
Mourinho's unusual timing pales in comparison to the questionable timing of the announcement of Mario Götze's upcoming transfer to German rivals, Bayern Munich. Jürgen Klopp could not hide his disappointment with the timing of the news. "It would have been worse to wait four hours before the match. But from one to ten on a scale of negativity, this is a nine." The news certainly left the footballing world in shock, not to mention Borussia Dortmund fans. The player's introduction to the Signal Iduna tomorrow will be very interesting to see.
Listen to our newest episode of the Podcast. Remember to subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes Store. If you don't use Apple's software, check out our feed in Feedburner.