Real Madrid play host to the Champions League group stage in almost two years against Moldovan club Tiraspol Sheriff on Tuesday.
These two clubs have never faced off against each other in either of the clubs’ histories. Real won their first group stage match against Inter back in early September.
Sheriff finished first in the Divizia Națională to qualify for the single Champions League spot last season. They are currently third in the domestic league and first in Group D after scoring twice against FC Shakhtar. This is Sheriff’s first season in the Champions League and they are the first Moldovan club in history to qualify for the European tournament.
Real Madrid receive a boost after finally getting the returning Toni Kroos back in the squad. They are still dealing with several key injuries including Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Ferland Mendy, Dani Ceballos and Gareth Bale.
Sheriff will likely be without forward Lovro Bizjak due to a foot injury.
There are no suspensions for either club in Tuesday’s European match.
Courtois; Nacho, Militão, Alaba, Miguel; Modric, Casemiro, Valverde; Asensio, Hazard, Benzema
With no true right back yet available, it likely comes down between Nacho or Lucas Vazquez starting with Nacho being the more likely of the two. This means youngster Miguel Gutierrez could start at left back.
There’s a case for Eduardo Camavinga to receive a start after how well he has played since joining the club this season. With Kroos just returning for the first time this season it’s unlikely he receives a start.
Karim Benzema could likely start though this would be one where Carlo Ancelotti can afford to finally give him a rest off the bench.
Athanasiadis; Fernando, Arboleda, Dulanto, Cristiano; Kolovos, Addo, Thill; Traore, Castaneda, Yakhshiboev
Real Madrid—Sheriff Tiraspol 3-1
Though Sheriff could provide a tough time this should ultimately be a victory for Real Madrid. These are the two Group D clubs that have registered wins so far so the first spot is most certainly in play here.
It’s a bit of an unpredictable matchup as Sheriff have never played in the Champions League prior to this season and have never matched up against Real Madrid. It’s also difficult to predict who Ancelotti will choose to seek out the victory at home and who he will choose to give rest to.
This will be an intriguing one as we see two clubs face off against each other for the first time with many thoughts still in the air as to what may happen during the course of 90 minutes.