Real Madrid begin their quest to win a 14th European crown when Shakhtar Donetsk visit the Spanish capital on Wednesday evening (5.55pm kick-off).
Zinedine Zidane’s men have been disappointing in the last two Champions League campaigns, being knocked out in the last 16 by Ajax and Manchester City respectively, coming off the back of three consecutive triumphs.
They’ve subsequently started their La Liga defence tentatively, winning three of their opening five matches, and will no doubt fancy their chances in a group containing this week’s opponents, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Inter Milan.
Shakhtar, who have been Champions League mainstays since 2000, are yet to come out on top against the competition’s most successful club. The 13-time Ukrainian champions lost in their two previous meetings with Real, conceding eight goals whilst just scoring twice.
Where to watch Real Madrid vs Shakhtar on TV:
- UK: BT Sport 1
- US: CBS All Access
Where to live stream Real Madrid vs Shakhtar:
US ONLY: Fubo* are streaming a selection of Champions League fixtures live for account holders. Those without a Fubo account already can take advantage of their seven-day free trial by following the simple steps below.
- Click on this link.
- Click ‘Start Your Free Trial’ and enter your details.
- Log in and pick your desired channel to watch.
*Geo restrictions apply. Fubo is currently available in the United States, Canada and Spain. Packages and pricing differ per country.
Real Madrid & Shakhtar’s previous line-ups:
- Real Madrid (vs Cádiz): Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Ramos*, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Vázquez, Benzema, Vinícius Júnior.
- Shakhtar (vs PFK Lviv): Trubin; Dodô, Khocholava, Bondar, Kornienko; Maycon, Marcos Antônio; Marlos, Kovalenko*, Tetê; Dentinho.
Zidane goes into Real’s opening Champions League clash without captain Sergio Ramos, leaving a big hole to fill. The 34-year-old centre-back played just half of Los Blancos’ recent 1-0 home loss to Cadiz and has not been included in their squad for Wednesday’s game.
Mariano, Martin Ødegaard, Dani Carvajal, Álvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are also ruled out. But Real Madrid will also have one eye on this weekend’s Clasico, which could affect Zidane’s team choice.
Shakhtar Donetsk have no fewer than nine players missing for their Bernabéu Stadium showdown, including Taison and Alan Patrick.
Players to watch:
- Real Madrid: An unusually quiet summer has ensured Spanish champions Real Madrid kept intact a battle-hardened squad under Zidane’s auspices. But when it comes to experience in the final third very few currently wearing all white are on Karim Benzema‘s level. Only four sit above him (250) when it comes to Real’s all-time top goalscorers chart including former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo (450) and Raúl (323). Both also look down on Benzema from above when it comes to Champions League goals, the much-maligned French marksman saw Robert Lewandowski (68) race past him (65) last term and you can bet he’s determined to fill his boots against Shakhtar.
- Shakhtar: It could be a long evening for Shakhtar who are a far cry from the dark horses which many feared a decade or so ago under Mircea Lucescu’s leadership. All eyes, naturally, will fall on their defence with Real expected to dominant possession and chances. So it’s key veteran goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, though a doubt, puts in a vintage performance. The 36-year-old Ukrainian shot-stopper was there when Shakhtar lifted their only piece of European silverware in 2009, but in two previous appearances he’s conceded eight goals against Real, albeit five of those were netted by Ronaldo.
Scoreline prediction: Real Madrid 3-0 Shakhtar
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