Struggling in attack, Madrid has also had problems in defense, conceding nine goals in five group games, its worst defensive record up to this point in the competition. Real defender Nacho described what his team had done in the knockout stages of the Champions League as “magic” and many questioned whether those improbable escape acts were possible outside of the Bernabeu. At the other end of the standings, Everton will look to move six points clear of the relegation zone by beating Leicester. James’ Park, with both 12 points above the drop zone. If he plays, PSG star Kylian Mbappe will be trying to break his 13-match, nine-month scoring drought in the Champions League. Great chance for Madrid to open the scoring at the other end, as Valverde plays in Vinicius after Christensen slips in the heavy rain. Victory would give Carlo Ancelotti’s team a chance to clinch the title next weekend against Espanyol, depending on other results. Last year’s losing finalist PSG can win the group with a victory over eliminated Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday. Braaf, who has been out on loan and suffered injuries, persistently fell foul of the club’s disciplinary rules and was allowed to leave.
Guardiola will hope playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who were unused substitutes at Wembley due to injury, will be fit to return against mid-table Brighton. Liverpool is already through, leaving Atalanta and Ajax to decide who joins the English champions. Leipzig will aim to beat United because a draw will leave the German team needing Basaksehir to upset PSG. A draw in Germany would be enough for United. Gladbach can go through with a draw. Gladbach leads it with eight points. When Gladbach hosted Madrid in October, the German club was leading 2-0 until Karim Benema and Casemiro scored late to salvage a 2-2 draw. Olympiakos will take the Europa League berth as long as it matches the result of Marseille. Krasdonar is going to the Europa League; Rennes will place fourth. The defense of the Premier League title is still in Manchester City’s hands as the champions host Brighton needing to reclaim top spot from Liverpool. Lokomotiv must win to have hope of taking third place and a Europa League spot. Bayern is likely to rest players for its game against Lokomotiv Moscow. The Portuguese superstar almost certainly wants to leave Manchester United this summer, and some parts of the fanbase think that Bayern should be happy to oblige.
With defending champion Bayern Munich already through as group winners, the second spot is down to either Atlético Madrid or Salzburg when they face off in Austria. Mendy played his part with those crucial interventions from Benzema, with Antonio Rudiger also a rock, but the home goalkeeper was virtually redundant after the break as Chelsea produced a terrific display of skill and intensity. Unlike most modern-day full-backs, Ferland Mendy is solid defensively as well as being excellent going forward. Madrid has underperformed for a squad of its caliber in the Spanish league as well. Ramos provided organisation and a customary yellow card but this Real side looked well past its best and in need of a rebuild, Hazard game but clearly nowhere near full fitness. A hamstring injury has sidelined defensive leader Sergio Ramos for the last two weeks. Madrid and Shakhtar each have seven, two more than last-place Inter. The Spaniard, 26, is keen to move in search of more game time with AC Milan also believed to be interested. In the case of a loss at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, it would need Shakhtar and Inter to draw. It can even advance with a loss as long as United’s game at Leipzig does not end in a draw.
Two of the trio of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Leipzig will advance from Group H; the other having to settle for the Europa League. Madrid’s only two wins both came against Inter. City is two points behind Liverpool before playing Brighton, which has beaten Tottenham and Arsenal in recent games. All three are tied on nine points. Second-place Barcelona, which has a game in hand, is tied on points with Sevilla and Atlético Madrid. Chelsea is already through as group winner and Sevilla is through in second place. Chelsea welcomes Krasnodar and Sevilla is at Rennes with absolutely nothing at stake. Ancelotti will not be able to count on midfielder Casemiro because of health reasons, and veteran Luka Modric will be rested. Auteur de seulement 3 buts en 51 matchs toutes compétitions confondues, Luka Jovic se sera contenté d’une toute petite réalisation en 19 apparitions pendant la saison 2021-2022, contre la Real Sociedad (2-0, 16e journée de Liga).
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