Real Madrid travel to Ukraine for this evening’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in the knowledge that victory is absolutely crucial as explained by Mundo Deportivo.
Should Los Blancos win they secure qualification for the last 16, but if they lose they’ll find themselves level on points with Shakhtar, who are currently third, going into the final matchday.
Madrid come into the game off the high of beating Inter Milan 2-0 in Italy last week and the low of losing 2-1 to lowly Alaves in Madrid on Saturday.
Also in the back of their mind will be the reverse fixture against Shakhtar, which saw them lose 3-2 at Estadio Di Stefano at the beginning of the campaign.
Zinedine Zidane is expected to be able to welcome back Karim Benzema, who has overcome his hip discomfort, although it’s touch and go whether he’ll be fit to start. Mariano Diaz, who’s done well in his absence, will probably get the nod.
One return that is expected from the off is Ferland Mendy, who should come in to replace the underperforming Marcelo, while Zidane has another problem on his hands to replace Eden Hazard, who picked up an injury against Alaves.
An option could be to play Marco Asensio on the left and switch Rodrygo to the right, or perhaps bring Vinicius, who’s been out of favour, back into the fold.
Shakhtar are in poor form and have taken heavy consecutive defeats at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach, who scored ten goals across two games against them.
The Ukrainians have to win to have a chance of advancing to the last 16 of the Champions League, so will be hoping to repeat their feat from that evening in Madrid at the beginning of the season.