Real Madrid hit the road today to take on Sporting Lisbon in Match Day 5 of the Champions League in Group F. Currently, Los Blancos sit in second 2 points behind Borussia Dortmund who have 10 points. A draw today for Real would be enough to see them clinch a berth into the knockout stage.
When these two clubs met in Match Day 1 in the Santiago Bernabeu, Real struggled to attack Sporting as the back four from the Portuguese club held the Spanish home team to no goals in the first half, and, for the majority of the game.
It was Bruno Cesar who netted the first goal of the game for Sporting earlier in the second half after a ball deflected through the Real Madrid back four and fell perfectly for Cesar who tucked home a curling shot past goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Real Madrid went to an all out attack approach and saw Ronaldo bang a close volley off the post in the 83rd minute but redeem himself in the closing minutes of regulation time as the former Sporting Lisbon player curled a beautiful free kick into the top right corner to tie the game in the 89th minute.
Los Blancos weren’t done there, as in stoppage time, a long cross from James Rodriguez looped perfectly into the box finding the head of substitute striker Alvaro Morata, who scored the game winning goal with just a few seconds remaining to give Real Madrid the 2-1 win.
Real Madrid Still Dealing With Injuries
Manager Zinedine Zidane will be tasked with juggling his lineup yet again as several key players will not be available for tonight’s contest. Both strikers, Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata, remain hampered with injuries, as Benzema is still undergoing treatment for Sacroiliitis and Morata is rehabbing a hamstring injury he picked up on international duty at the beginning of the month. Expect Benzema to play today as he has been training with the team all last week and is expected to start.
Casemiro remains out, meaning that Zidane will need to adjust his midfield yet again as he has had to do almost all season.
Sergio Ramos is closing in on a return to the field, as his rehab of his knee is coming along nicely people inside the club report.
Sporting Up to the Task to Upset Real Madrid
Sporting CF manager Jorge Jesus was very committed to his players saying in a press conference Monday, “We have a dream, and that is to play as we did in Madrid and win. We knew all about Madrid going into the first game, but they didn’t know us that well. Here they won’t be as surprised by our capabilities. They are strong when they have the ball. When they don’t have the ball, they have weaknesses, like all teams, and we will try to capitalize.”
Real Madrid will need to keep tabs on Sporting winger Gelson Martins who picked up the man of the match from the two teams first meeting in Madrid receiving an 8.0 rating according to Whoscored.com.
Real Madrid Lineup Prediction
With both of Real’s top striker, Karim Benzema, back for this match, expect to see Zidane change up the formation and play a 4-4-3.
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas
Defense: Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Marcelo
Midfield: Luka Modric, Isco, Mateo Kovacic
Attack: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
Sporting Lisbon Lineup Prediction
Last time out against Los Merengues, Jorge Jesus’ team played a 4-4-2 of their own and saw several good chances and nearly pulled a massive upset on the road in Madrid.
Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio
Defense: Marvin Zeegelaar, Ruben Semedo, Sebastian Coates, Joao Pereira
Midfield: William Carvalho, Bruno Cesar, Adrien Silva, Gelson Martins
Attack: Bryan Ruiz, Bas Dost
Where to Watch:
TV: Fox Sports 2/Fox Sports Go
Kickoff: 2:45 EST