Likely lineups, predictions, tactics, team news, and key stats


Real Madrid will aim to bounce back on their way to victory when they face Shakhtar Donetsk in a UEFA Champions League Group D meeting this week.

Real Madrid hope to end their three-game winless streak in all competitions by facing Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League in Kiev on Tuesday night.

Real Madrid, after a rather solid start under Carlo Ancelotti, saw their form falter just before the international break. Indeed, after being held in check by Villarreal in La Liga, Los Blancos suffered a shock defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League before losing to Espanyol in the league.

Not having played after the end of the international break as their clash against Athletic Bilbao was postponed, the Real Madrid stars were given a few more days off. They will want to make the most of it and close the gap to leader Sheriff Tiraspol with a win. However, in their own way there will be a delicate Shakhtar Donetsk squad that will make life difficult despite their shady form in Europe.

Indeed, Roberto De Zerbi’s team are currently rooted at the bottom of Group D in points with Inter Milan, third (1 point), after losing to Sheriff and drawing against the Nerazzurri. However, it should be noted that they are on a six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions and beat Zorya Luhansk 6-1 in their last game in the domestic league.

With both teams in need of a win to increase their chances of reaching the knockout stages, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this crucial meeting in Kiev.

Team news and tactics

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk will likely be without just two players for Real Madrid clash with Junior Moraes and Lassina Traore currently recovering from injuries. Apart from him, Roberto De Zerbi has an almost complete squad and will be looking to make the most of their opponents’ recent struggles and inflict even more misery on them.

De Zerbi is likely to return to the 4-1-4-1 formation he used against Inter Milan which helped Shakhtar get a goalless draw. Andriy Pyatov will be the goalkeeper for the home team. He will be protected by a backline including Dodo and Ismaily as full-backs flanking center-back duo Marlon Santos and Mykola Matviyenko.

Taras Stepanenko will provide additional protection at the baseline, registering as the only defensive midfielder. He will benefit from the added support of Maycon, who will line up in a slightly advanced role in the middle of the park, while his partner, Alan Patrick, will carry the creative burden of the midfield.

Pedrinho and Manor Solomon will carry a big threat in large areas and look to cause problems for Real Madrid full-backs while Fernando, who was on goal this weekend against Zorya, is expected to spearhead the attack on the Shakhtar Donetsk.

Probable composition (4-1-4-1): Pyatov; Dodo, Marlon, Matviyenko, Ismaily; Stepanenko; Pedrino, Maycon, Patrick, Salomon; Fernando

real Madrid

Real Madrid have plenty of injury issues for their game against Shakhtar. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will have to do without Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale, Dani Ceballos and Isco for the trip to Ukraine. Marco Asensio ignored his injury issue and was named to the squad for the midweek clash while Ferland Mendy and Eduardo Camavinga are also part of the travel squad.

Real Madrid will line up in their usual 4-3-3 formation, with Thibaut Courtois stepping between the sticks, protected by the pair of central defenders Eder Militao and David Alaba. Nacho is expected to get the go-ahead at right-back in Carvajal’s continued absence while Miguel Gutierrez is expected to feature at left-back ahead of Marcelo and Mendy.

Casemiro is a certain starter at the base of the three-way midfielder for the Spanish giants, from where he will look to break through the hosts’ counterattacks and put the attackers in their path. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are expected to occupy the two remaining places in midfield, with Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga being options on the bench.

There is no look at Karim Benzema in slot No.9 for Real Madrid. The French hitman will be flanked by Brazilian duo Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior, with Asensio likely to be used as a late replacement.

Probable composition (4-3-3): Courteous; Nacho, Militao, Alaba, Gutiérrez; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

Key statistics

  • For a second consecutive season, Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid will meet in the UEFA Champions League group stage – Shakhtar beat Madrid in both meetings last season (3-2 away, 2-0 home).
  • Real Madrid could lose three consecutive UEFA Champions League games to an opponent for the third time. Previously, he had lost four in a row against Bayern Munich between May 2000 and April 2002 and three in rebound against Juventus between March 2005 and November 2008.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk have had the most shots of any team to score in the UEFA Champions League this season (32).
  • Real Madrid were last beaten by Sheriff Tiraspol at home in the Champions League. Their manager Carlo Ancelotti has not lost consecutive matches in the competition since April 2017.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk’s Manor Solomon are looking to become the first player since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score in three consecutive Champions League games against Real Madrid.

Player to watch

Karim Benzema

The fittest striker in all of Europe today, Benzema has made a stellar start to the season, plundering 10 goals and seven assists in just ten appearances in all competitions for Real Madrid. On top of that, the 33-year-old enters the game with great confidence after helping France win the UEFA Nations League in the international break.

His form, return from goal and the trophy sparked talks about a Ballon d’Or triumph for the veteran striker. Whether or not that materializes remains to be seen, but for Real Madrid to recover from their current slump they will need Benzema to fire at full speed on Tuesday night.


Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Real Madrid

Shakhtar Donetsk are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions as they also scored a brace against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League. Thus, they will want to try their luck for the contest on Tuesday, especially since Los Blancos have lost their last two games.

However, the experience and quality that Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, David Alaba, among others, bring to the table, should help Real Madrid save a point from their Ukraine trip. The Hard Tackle predict a draw in Kiev.

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