Preview: Real Madrid vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Real Madrid will be looking to build on last month’s 5-0 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk when they welcome the Ukrainian outfit to the Santiago Bernabeu for another Champions League battle on Wednesday night.

An entertaining encounter with plenty of goalmouth action is to be expected in the Spanish capital, as 23 goals have been scored in the previous five meetings between these two sides at an average of 4.6 goals per game.

After a disappointing goalless draw at home against Osasuna last Wednesday, Real Madrid returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory away against Elche on Saturday.

A brace from Vinicius Junior helped Los Blancos secure all three points and move to within one point of La Liga leaders Real Sociedad, with a game in hand.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have seemingly managed to regain their consistency in recent weeks, with three victories and a draw in their last four matches across all competitions. This run includes an emphatic 5-0 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk in the reverse fixture on October 19.

Real Madrid will have been pleased to have beaten the Ukrainian outfit so convincingly last time out, considering they were defeated by them on both occasions in last season’s Champions League group stage, which put them at risk of an embarrassing elimination at the first hurdle, something which would have been considered unthinkable for the 13-time European champions.

Another shock on Wednesday cannot be ruled out, however, following September’s 2-1 defeat at home against Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol, who incredibly top Group D heading into gameweek four.

Form on home soil is something which needs to be addressed by Ancelotti, as they have failed to win each of their last three games at the Santiago Bernabeu. In addition, Los Blancos have lost three of their last eight home matches in the group stage of the Champions League, including last season’s 3-2 defeat against Shakhtar.

Victory in midweek could see Real Madrid climb to the summit of Group D, if Sheriff were to drop points against Inter Milan, though qualifying for the knockout rounds is far from certain at this stage.

Shakhtar Donetsk extended ther unbeaten league run to 10 matches when they secured a comfortable 4-1 victory at home against Densa last weekend.

First-half goals from Manor Solomon and Heorhiy Sudakov as well as second-half strikes from Tete and Fernando ensured the Hirnyky are still within touching distance of Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev, who sit three points clear at the summit.

While their domestic form has been unsurprisingly strong, Shakhtar’s efforts in the Champions League have left a little to be desired after claiming just one point from their opening three Group D matches.

Roberto De Zerbi’s men are also one of three teams in this year’s competition – along with Dynamo Kiev and Malmo – who are yet to score. Their last strike in the competition was in fact away against Real Madrid last season.

Shakhtar would have gone into last month’s encounter against Los Blancos with plenty of confidence after doing the double over them last season. However, the five-goal drubbing by the Spanish giants has hindered their hopes of advancing from Group D.

De Zerbi needs to somehow transfer Shakhtar’s domestic form over to their Champions League campaign quickly, if they are to climb from the foot of Group D and progress into the knockout stages, a potentially dramatic comeback that seems unlikely but is not impossible.

Real Madrid Champions League form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League form:
Shakhtar Donetsk form (all competitions):

We say: Real Madrid 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Real Madrid will head into Wednesday’s fixture as the favourites, especially after their 5-0 victory last month, though Shakhtar have caused problems for Los Blancos before and are capable of causing another upset in the Spanish capital.

The potential absence of Benzema would be a blow for the hosts, though they should still have the quality in their squad to secure all three points on home soil.

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