Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 23/25
The 2020/21 Champions League campaign began last week with the opening round in all eight groups being played. In Group B, Inter Milan and Borussia Mochengladbach shared the spoils through a 2-2 draw in Italy, while Shakhtar Donetsk stunned Real Madrid in the Spanish capital walking away with all three points after a 2-3 win. In the second round, Inter travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar, and Real go to Germany to play against Gladbach.
Having just missed out on Champions League qualification the last time around, Borussia managed to finish in fourth place in the Bundesliga last season and beat Bayer Leverkusen to the final place in UEFA’s elite club competition for German clubs. At the moment, they are in fifth place in the country’s top flight with eight points to their name after five matches played, the same as Stuttgart in fourth, Werder Bremen in sixth and Eintracht Frankfurt in seventh.
Things didn’t start too well for Marco Rose’s team – the opening matchday saw them comprehensively beaten (3-0) by Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park, and they followed that up with a 1-1 draw at home against Union Berlin. The results improved after that; next came a 1-3 triumph away to FC Koln, then a 1-1 draw at home against Wolfsburg and a 2-3 win away to Mainz 05 last week, with the Champions League draw against Inter sitting between the last two league games.
Rose will be without left-back Andreas Poulsen, as well as midfielders Denis Zakaria and Laszlo Benes, who are all injured. Forward Valentino Lazaro is back in training after recovering from a calf problem which kept him out for almost two months, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to raise his match fitness to the level required to take part on Tuesday.
Forwards Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea were left out of the starting XI against Mainz at the weekend, along with midfielders Jonas Hofmann and Florian Neuhaus, but all four are expected to start against Real.
Though they were stopped by Manchester City in the round of 16 in the last edition of the Champions League, Los Blancos had a fairly successful 2019/20 season overall – they managed to snatch the La Liga title away from arch-rivals Barcelona and that was no small feat, despite a club of that size aspiring to win every trophy on offer.
On the other hand, Los Blancos went through a strong turbulence last week, with one shocking home defeat, 0-1 against Cadiz, followed by another, the Champions League opener against Shakhtar. The Spanish press were quick to get on the back of Zinedine Zidane, reporting that the Frenchman would have faced the possibility of the sack, had the team not bounced back in the best way imaginable – a 1-3 triumph in the El Clasico at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Before that slippery patch on the path, Real went through a 0-0 draw away to Real Sociedad, a 2-3 win over Real Betis in Sevilla, a 1-0 win over Valladolid at home, and a 0-2 victory away to Levante.
At the moment, Zidane’s men are in second place with 13 points from those six matches, a point less but with a game in hand compared to Sociedad at the top. There is still a lot to do, but the win over Barcelona could have been just the boost they needed to start a good run.
Providing there are no late injury scares, Zidane is likely to stick with the same line-up that started the El Clasico apart from the right-back spot. Nacho Fernandez picked up a knock at the Camp Nou and Lucas Vazquez should be the man to take his place. After the Shakhtar fiasco, there should be no room for rotation in this match.
This match could easily go either way. Real are obviously the team with more quality in their ranks, but they’ve shown a few weaknesses lately while Gladbach have shown ability to deal with opponents stronger on paper. Still, whatever may have happened against Shakhtar, it simply doesn’t seem wise to bet against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 23/25
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