Real Madrid will travel to Poland’s capital on Wednesday as they look to get back-to-back victories against Legia Warsaw and tighten their grip in UEFA Champions League Group F as a result.
Los Blancos currently sit joint-top of the pool alongside Borussia Dortmund with seven points apiece, but a win over Legia on Matchday 4 could see manager Zinedine Zidane’s side pull clear of the bunch.
Legia have found a bit of form at precisely the right time coming into Wednesday’s clash, however, and they will be hopeful of faring better this time around after losing 5-1 on their visit to Madrid last month.
Read on for an in-depth preview of Wednesday’s Champions League encounter, complete with the latest team news and all the vital viewing information you’ll need to watch the action unfold.
Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/3:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Polish Army Stadium, Warsaw, Poland
Live Stream: BT Sport app (UK), Watch ESPN (US)
TV Info: BT Sport ESPN (UK), ESPN Deportes (US)
Zidane will have been pained to learn central defender Pepe is set for a spell on the sidelines this week, joining fellow veteran Sergio Ramos on the treatment table in a move that forces the coach to alter his lineup.
Soccerway confirmed the Portugal centre-back will be absent for “a number of weeks” after having scans on a thigh injury, while Yahoo’s Andrew Gaffney provided more details on the blow:
Bad news for Real Madrid fans as Pepe is likely to be out for a month due to the muscle injury which forced him off at the weekend. #LaLiga https://t.co/yruEBvJGQd
That means Nacho is likely to come in alongside Raphael Varane at centre-back, while Danilo could retain his place at right-back after filling in for the suspended Dani Carvajal during Saturday’s 4-1 win at Alaves.
The midfield concerns in Madrid are more well-known at this stage, and neither Luka Modric nor Casemiro will be fit to face Legia this week. Bleacher Report’s Rik Sharma outlined the impact it’s had for the latter to be missing in particular:
What is (a little) more interesting is with Casemiro Madrid P5 W5, without P8, W4 D4. Haven't lost yet this season despite not playing well
Toni Kroos has had a heavy workload in the absence of his midfield mates, but the German could be relied upon to provide some experience next to Marco Asensio, Isco or Mateo Kovacic.
ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan highlighted the impact of Modric’s absence, too, with Real standing to benefit greatly from his return:
Madrid missing Modric so much it's pretty painful. Alaves doing decent job of blocking Kroos from getting moves going.
The good news for Real is that their forward trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are all fit, although the latter could be rested in order to give Alvaro Morata a run in the starting XI.
Legia have considerably fewer injury worries on their minds, and the club’s official website confirmed centre-back Michal Pazdan made his return in Friday’s 4-2 win over Korona Kielce, replacing Jakub Czerwinski.
Despite being sent off in the league fixture, Pazdan should retain his place for Wednesday’s outing, while Guilherme will likely deputise for the injured Adam Hlousek at left-back, and Lukasz Broz could take Bartosz Bereszynski’s spot on the other side of defence.
Predicted Legia Warsaw Lineup (4-4-2): Arkadiusz Malarz; Lukasz Broz, Jakub Rzezniczak, Michal Pazdan, Adam Hlousek; Guilherme, Tomasz Jodlowiec, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Michal Kucharczyk; Miroslav Radovic, Nemanja Nikolic
Predicted Real Madrid Lineup (4-3-3): Keylor Navas; Danilo, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio, Isco; Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Alvaro Morata
A 4-1 win at Alaves on Saturday was enough to see Real extend their current unbeaten streak to 18 matches, a record that bodes badly for Legia Warsaw, who are still yet to claim a point in Group F.
It wasn’t so long ago that Real sealed four draws in succession and encountered criticism for their lull in form, but broadcaster Deji Kofi Faremi took note of how things have changed all of a sudden:
The Real Madrid/Zidane is lucky brigade only find their voices when Real Madrid aren't getting results. How convenient.
Now with five successive wins to their name across all competitions, Los Merengues resemble an altogether different animal, although Zidane would be unwise to take anything for granted in Warsaw.
One major factor in Wednesday’s meeting will be the absence of any home fans—or fans in general for that matter, due to the fact this fixture will be played behind closed doors after Legia has a stadium ban upheld, per Goal’s Joe Wright.
Legia may be a way off Real in terms of pedigree, but their fans can help turn the Polish Army Stadium into a cauldron of intimidation that will at least make it more difficult for Real to waltz out with three points.
The Poles are on the brink of falling out of the Champions League without making a dent, but an upset win over the reigning European champions on Wednesday would be just about the ideal way to turn things around.
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