Earlier this season, Real Madrid easily put away a strong Celtic side by three goals in the first matchday of the UEFA Champions League. Four games later in the competition, the two sides meet again, albeit under different circumstances.
Real Madrid recently hit the first big hiccup of their season in the form of a defeat to RB Leipzig. Days later, they stepped onto the field hoping for redemption against Girona. However, a combination of poor play and questionable refereeing led the hosts to drop two points.
While Celtic are yet to register their first points in the UCL, Real Madrid will play to secure the first spot on the standings with a dominant victory. The defending champions cannot afford to take the visitors lightly, however, for the Scottish side have been ruthless in their domestic campaign and have netted 42 goals in just 12 Premiership games.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Ange Postecoglou’s side.
1. Seeing off the hiccup
If Real Madrid’s loss to RB Leipzig was not a deep enough wound in itself, the team fell to a tame draw in their next game to smear salt onto the bruise.
Los Blancos are usually not a team to let a poor result get into their head and influence future performances. They are the mentality kings of Europe and have proved the strength of their mental game innumerable times on the biggest stage.
While Carlo Ancelotti’s men were underwhelming at the RB Arena last week, the same cannot be said about the game against Girona. On another day with another referee, all three points would be in Real Madrid’s bag.
That Real Madrid suffered a draw immediately after their first defeat of the season can be taken as a coincidence. However, a third successive poor result will raise questions about their form. Clearly, a win is the need of the hour both for the players and the manager.
2. The middle muddle
Carlo Ancelotti has several options for the middle of the park, yet only a few are really available for tomorrow’s game.
Aurelien Tchouameni is yet to fully recover from his muscular niggle and the manager has confirmed that the Frenchman will not participate in the game against Celtic. Meanwhile, Luka Modric played the entire 90 minutes against Girona and deserves a rest amidst the busy schedule.
Federico Valverde presents a strong case to start in midfield but the coach would prefer deploying the Uruguayan as a winger once again given his unbelievable recent record.
Given all the constraints, it is not difficult to predict Real Madrid’s midfield on the night. Toni Kroos will miss the next La Liga game through suspension and is well-placed to start against Celtic. He will likely be placed alongside Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos on the night, both of whom have something to prove to the manager with their performances.
3. Eyes on the pinnacle
The psychological aspect aside, Real Madrid have to win over Celtic even purely from the competition’s point of view.
Having played five group stage games so far, the men in white sit atop Group F standings in the UCL with ten points. RB Leipzig follow closely behind with nine points after registering a win over Real Madrid last week.
The top spot is in Los Blancos‘ hands as it stands, but only a win on Wednesday can guarantee them the privileged position. If they drop points against Celtic, however, they risk losing it to the German side who will jump to 12 points should they win against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Needless to say, Real Madrid will go all out and hope to seal their objective without depending on the result of the other game. That will not be easy, however, considering Celtic’s fearless and attacking brand of football.
The Scottish side have scored 42 goals in 12 Premiership games this season, conceding just nine in the process. They are currently the leaders of the Scottish league and will be keen to get the first win of their UCL campaign against the defending champions.
Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Vinicius, Rodrygo, Militao advance to the Round of 16
The second round of group-stage fixtures in Qatar came to a close on Monday in what was a day of very high-quality football. The first two games alone accounted for 11 goals in what was the highest tally in a day in this edition.
The first game saw Serbia and Cameroon face off in an epic clash that saw no end of twists and turns. The game ended 3-3 with the teams sharing the points.
The next game saw South Korea go 2-0 down quickly against Ghana before coming back in the second half. However, the African side scored once again on demand to steer themselves to a win.
Brazil needed a late winner from Casemiro to break the deadlock against Switzerland in the third game and secured their spot in the Round of 16.
The last game between Portugal and Uruguay was expected to be a match of equals. That perception quickly changed when the Europeans produced a dominant performance and killed off the game with two goals.
Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Monday.
Vinicius Jr (Brazil vs Switzerland)
Over the past few years, Vinicius Jr has carved out a reputation for being a thorn in defenders’ feet, be it with his world-class dribbling or his antics. As one of the best young wingers in business, he stands out in chance creation even when faced against the best in the business.
However, it appeared like Silvan Widmer had Vinicius in his pockets for large parts of the game. The two created a fabulous battle down Brazil’s left-wing but it was often the Real Madrid player who came second best.
The youngster scored a goal in the 66th minute with a perfectly placed shot after beating his man. However, it was ruled out for an offside intervention after the VAR review.
Apart from sporadic moments of magic, Vinicius did not offer much. He had just one shot on target, completed just one of his five attempted dribbles and missed one big chance. Moreover, he did not complete a single cross accurately and lost more than 50% of his duels. But he was involved in the buildup to the goal.
Eder Militao (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After spending 90 minutes on the bench against Serbia, Militao received his first World Cup start on Monday night. However, the manager deployed him as the right-back as opposed to his usual position in central defence.
Despite playing in a foreign position, the Brazilian was convincing in defence and stopped the likes of Ruben Vargas and Ricardo Rodriguez.
Understandably, Militao did not look to burst into the final third and create chances like a traditional full-back but was still heavily linked in the build-up play. He completed 87% of his attempted passes, five out of eight long balls and even provided a key pass.
Rodrygo Goes (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After Brazil’s underwhelming first half, the manager turned to Rodrygo at the start of the second period. The youngster came on for Lucas Paqueta at halftime in an attempt to ramp up Selecao’s threat in the final third and the decision paid off.
It was the young sensation who assisted Casemiro’s goal in the 83rd minute. Receiving the ball from Vinicius, Rodrygo just flicked the ball away from defenders and into the feet of Casemiro to set up an ideal half-volley.
Apart from his assist, the Real Madrid man came painfully close to scoring in the 94th minute only to be denied by Manuel Akanji. He had one shot on target, one blocked, and a key pass.
Federico Valverde (Uruguay vs Portugal)
Uruguay have perhaps been the most disappointing team in the World Cup this year. The squad is filled with quality players from Rodrigo Bentancur and Darwin Nunez to Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Diego Godin.
The South Americans once again dished out an average game against Portugal, but it was Valverde who seemed the most inspiring in the Uruguayan team.
The in-form midfielder did not pose much threat to the goal on the night but worked like a machine off the ball. He recorded three interceptions, and two tackles, and won two tackles against Fernando Santos’ side in addition to a key pass and a big chance created.