The challenge for a spot in the knockout round of the Champions League comes down to Real Madrid facing Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Di Stefano on Wednesday.
Real are third in Group B, but tied on points with Shakhtar. Real lost its last European match against Shakhtar 2-0. The club also drew 2-2 the last time it met Gladbach.
Los Blancos are getting a huge boost back with captain Sergio Ramos finally making it back into the squad. He couldn’t come back at a better time to potentially lead his team to a qualification spot.
Gladbach lost its last Champions League match against Inter. The loss makes this race for the two qualification spots very interesting and right down to the wire on the last match- day.
As mentioned, Sergio Ramos has been included in the home squad. Also returning is Dani Carvajal from injury. Luka Jović, Eden Hazard, Mariano and Fede Valverde all remain out. Martin Ødegaard will also miss Wednesday’s match.
Gladbach have a doubt with starting center back Nico Elvedi. He traveled with the team but it is still unclear if he can feature for Die Fohlen. The team will also be without defenders Tony Jantschke and Ramy Bensebaini and midfielder Jonas Hofmann.
There are no suspensions for either club in this match.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Vinicius, Benzema
Should Carvajal and Ramos be fit to start, both will most certainly do so in a crucial match like this.
Rodrygo started against Sevilla over the weekend. He could get the start again with Ødegaard out or the nod could be given to Marco Asensio instead.
Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Kramer, Wendt; Zakaria, Neuhaus; Herrmann, Stindl, Thuram; Pléa
Real Madrid—Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1
This is an absolute must-win for Real Madrid. They can’t leave things based on the results of matches that are out of their control. The club can’t rely on the result of Inter and Shakhtar to get the team a qualification spot.
Having Ramos and Carvajal likely back starting is a major positive that increases the chances of getting the needed result. Being at home should also help.
Gladbach is likely missing its start center back in Elvedi, which has proven to hurt the team defensively quite a bit. The team conceded three goals to Inter and two to Freiburg in the time that he’s been out along with Jantschke.
The attack of DIe Fohlen is dangerous as well with Alassane Pléa tied for fourth in Champions League goalscoring with five goals so far. Lars Stindl and Marcus Thuram are also having strong seasons.
Real has the depth to move on, but it certainly isn’t a given with how good Gladbach has generally been in the competition this season. It will be a battle for both sides if they desire three points and a potential qualification spot.
The result here is the difference between advancing to the Round of 16 or being demoted to the Europa League with a third-place finish. Real must show up for what is undoubtedly the most important match of the season so far.