Real Madrid host Borussia Dortmund in a match that will decide who wins Group F. Real have won their Champions League group every year since 2009.
However, due to the standings across the Champions League, one could argue Real might be content to finish second. Here’s who Madrid could draw if they finish...
First: Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Bayern Leverkusen. Sevilla and Porto are likely to finish second in their respective groups.
Second: Leicester City, Monaco, Napoli, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal, and most likely Juventus.
Make of that what you will. Regardless of where Madrid finish, there’ll be reason to be nervous ahead of the next round’s draw.
Zidane isn’t of the mind that it might be best to finish second and hope to draw the likes of Leicester, Monaco, or Napoli. Yesterday Zidane said, “We are going to play it like a final, a group final. We’re playing at home and we want to have a great game tomorrow. We will not over think things, just play the game with intensity and try to finish first.” I’m with ya, ZiZou.
The big surprise for Madrid is the return of Toni Kroos, who recovered well ahead of his schedule. Also returning to the lineup will likely be Casemiro, who played at the weekend but is still returning to fitness.
Dortmund have some key injuries of their own. Mario Götze, Sven Bender, and Shinji Kagawa will miss the match, as will Nuri Sahin, who I once lauded as the world’s next Xabi Alonso back in 2011 (goes to show how much I know). Some names to watch on Dortmund are Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang, and Sokratis Papastathopolous. Reus is a world-beater on the wing, capable of leathering the ball from outside the box, Aubamayang doesn’t often miss his chances, and Sokratis is the glue that holds their back line together.
I have my reservations about just how fit Toni Kroos is, but an out-of-form Toni Kroos is still imposing, and Real will have to finish their chances against an effervescent Dortmund team who can score in an instant.
After playing in the always-intimidating Westfalenstadion, one has to imagine the Bernabéu will be packed with Madridistas excited to return the favor to Dortmund.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Marcelo, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Carvajal; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modrić; Lucas Vázquez, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Marc Barta, Sokratis, Ginter; Schmelzer, Weigl, Castro, Piczcek; Reus, Aubamayang, Dembélé