18:45 GMT, 17th of October 2017, Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid) BT Sport
After a three-week hiatus, the Champions League is back and this match week pits together two teams who have started their respective Champions League campaigns with maximum points. With both teams defeating BVB and APOEL en route to having all 6 points so far, something has to give when Spurs travel to the Bernabeu to take on the European behemoth that is Real Madrid. By the end of Tuesday’s game, we’ll have a better picture of where the Lilywhites stand in their quest for qualifications into the round of 16.
Real Madrid have been a little Jekyll and Hyde this season, winning with domineering performances in the Champions League whilst scrapping out the late victories in the league. Despite not winning convincingly in the league since they defeated Real Sociedad 3-1 at the San Sebastian. they seem to reserve all their best performances for the Champions League: their last fixture against BVB was supposed to be the toughest match for the Madrid side but the ease with which they cut through the German team showed they are still a team to be feared in Europe.
Tottenham, meanwhile, have been there and about in the Premier League, a fact not helped by the fact that they are still coming to terms with their new home at Wembley Stadium. This weekend saw them pick up their first home win of the season against Bournemouth which only goes to show how good their form has been on the road. Having 6 points at the stage of the competition should be a guarantee that Spurs will qualify but Group H is so tight that the way they play over the next fortnight will determine how well the team Pep termed “the Harry Kane team” will fare in the Champions League.
This game will have been marked in red for those upstairs at the Bernabeu, giving them a chance to see firsthand exactly what Kane and Dele Alli have to offer. With rumours swirling about imminent bids for each player, this is the chance for both to show Real Madrid fans what all the fuss is about.
Last Time Out
Getafe 1-2 Real Madrid (La Liga)
The lesser-known Madrid derby, this match was closer than expected. Ronaldo had the final say when his 85th-minute winner meant Real Madrid returned to Valdebebas with all three points. The fact that this was the Portuguese striker’s first goal in the league this season gives an indication of how much Real have struggled so far.
A well-taken goal from Benzema had put Los Blancos ahead but, due to an overall dearth of chances and a rarely-seen profligate Ronaldo, they couldn’t put the game to bed. A lapse in concentration let Jorge Molina in to equalise for Getafe but, after Isco’s introduction to proceedings, the game was only going to go one way. It was fitting that he eventually supplied the assist for Ronaldo’s winner.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Bournemouth (Premier League)
After Pep Guardiola’s off-hand labelling of Spurs as the “Harry Kane team”, there was some poetic justice to the fact that someone other than Kane scored the only goal to win them the game.
In a game of precious few chances, Kane was unusually sloppy in possession and wasn’t able to have the influence he tends to have in this sort of game. Nevertheless, Eriksen stood up for the team and scored the deciding goal.
Real Madrid Lineup
Los Blancos are expected to line up in their 4-3-1-2, with Keylor Navas in goal shielded by a back four of Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo. A midfield quartet of Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco will ably support the attack featuring Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
There were fears about Navas’ involvement in the tie but with his full compliments in training over the weekend, he’s expected to start once again where he will hope to keep a clean sheet like he did in the most recent Champions League game at the Bernabeu.
Tottenham Hotspur Lineup
The familiar 3-4-3 is expected for the Lilywhites going into this fixture. Hugo Lloris is likely to retain his place in goal behind a defensive line of Davinson Sanchez, Toby Aldeweireld and Eric Dier. A double pivot of Moussa Dembele and Harry Winks will form the base from which Spurs will operate, recycling the ball and starting attacks. They’ll be flanked by Jan Vertonghen and Serge Aurier. Christian Eriksen, their main playmaker, and Heung-Min Son are expected to play just behind their main man, Harry Kane.
Key Battle: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Harry Kane
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane have been responsible for no less than 9 goals in this edition of the Champions League and are the main pillars upon which the fate of their clubs lie. They’re ably supported by excellent playmakers as well, but if either player is in their elements, stopping them can be a rather tall order.
Whoever is in charge of defending against either of these players, they will be in for a long night as both use different methods of evading the attention of their markers and find the net. With their teams on 6 points, whichever player can produce for their club will likely thrust them into the knock-out stages of the competition.
Los Blancos attack vs Spurs defence
This is not an everyday match for the Spurs attack. In recent matches, they’ve made it a habit to stop virtually all the attacks they’ve faced. In this case, though, their opponents have also made it a habit to go all guns blazing whenever the big games roll by and it will take more than the defence to stop them in full flow. Does Mauricio Pochettino have a plan to stop them? Does Zinedine Zidane have a system in place to slice open the Spurs defence? We’ll find out soon enough.
The midfield battle
The outcome of the match is likely to be decided in the midfield and Real Madrid have in their midfield quartet a unique combination who have proven successful at the highest level. All four of Kroos, Modric, Isco and Casemiro have specific qualities and are well-drilled to know what to do and when to do it.
In Moussa Dembele, though, Spurs have a player who marries together brain and brawn. Alongside youngster Harry Winks, Dembele’s harrying style of play will need to be employed to its maximum to prevent the Madrid players from imposing their style on the game.
PREDICTION: Real Madrid 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
The match is likely to be mirror Real Madrid’s game at the Signal Iduna Park where a closely fought match ended up with Los Blancos on the winning side. With the form both teams have found in Europe, the experience the Spanish giants possess might be the deciding factor. Harry Kane will want to prove himself against the Champions League holders but Real Madrid possess more than enough in their ranks to handle this Spurs team.
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