Expectation is high in the Spanish capital for the glamour clash of Group H between the two teams occupying the top two positions. Both boast a 100 per cent record going into this MatchDay 3 clash – defending champions Real Madrid against a Tottenham side who are riding on the crest of wave in this competition and domestically in the Premier League.
Zidane’s Madrid got their campaign off to a flying start with a 3-0 win at home to APOEL and followed that up with a 1-3 in Germany against
Borussia Dortmund. Meanwhile, the feelgood factor is evident within the Spurs camp – the team showed devastating form in their MatchDay 1 demolition of Dortmund at their temporary, Wembley home. There is no stopping Harry Kane at the moment , he was impressive with two brilliant strikes against Dortmund and hit a hat trick in the team’s second outing at APOEL to take his overall tally to five, making him the tournament’s top scorer ahead of Cristiano and Sevilla’s Ben Yedder on four each.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino knows all about Real Madrid , having faced them many times as a player and as a coach. During his playing days, he was part of the last Espanyol team to record a win at the Bernabéu – an achievement he will be aiming to replicate as a coach on Tuesday night. His team are hot on the heels of the two Manchester teams, third in the
Premier League table having suffered just one defeat – to Chelsea back in August. They’ll taking on Madrid at the peak of their powers, brimming with confidence and keen to avenge the 4-0 drubbing they suffered at the Bernabéu at the quarter final stage in 2011.
Madrid’s league form has not been as fruitful as their forays in Europe so far. Recent years have been marked by the team’s invincibility at home but that has changed this season – Valencia and Levante both took a point from their visits to the Bernabéu and Betis went home with all three. Their form on the road, four wins from four, has kept them in contention with the top two in LaLiga, Barcelona and Valencia.
Real Madrid’s internationals emerged relatively unscathed from the recent World Cup qualifiers. There was good news for Zidane as first choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas returned to training at the weekend and is over the muscular problems he picked up during his time with the Costa Rica squad. Right-back Dani Carvajal has been given a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with pericarditis but he hasn’t featured since the Dortmund game almost three weeks ago, Castilla promise Achraf Hakimi has been filling in while he’s been away but he could make for the more experienced Nacho. Sadly, Gareth Bale won’t be able to face his old club – he is still out nursing an injury to his left calf muscle and will be touch and go for the return in London on 1 November. Left-back Marcelo reappeared against Getafe after missing a number of games with a hamstring tear. His deputy Theo Hernández has also been out resting after dislocating his shoulder but made a brief appearance at the end of the Getafe game, replacing the Brazilian. Both trained as normal on Monday.
Man to watch: Isco. Arguably Real Madrid’s most consistent performer in the team’s most recent games and he’s been delivering the same kind of staggering skills with Spain. Watching him in action, it’s as though the ball is tied to his boots by an invisible rubber band. Zidane was signing his praises on the eve of the game . He’s the man who will find Cristiano with an incisive, killer pass, or cut inside and curl one into the top corner himself. He’s in the kind of electric form where is pulling off everything he attempts.
Dele Alli is not available for the game – he will serve the last of a three-match suspension but will be able to return when Spurs host Madrid at
Wembley next month. French midfielder Georges-Kevin Nkoudou has been ruled out after suffering concussion; a knee complaint means that Victor Wanyama won’t be in the team list and nor will left-back Ben Davies, who has been feeling under the weather. None of the Tottenham side who met Madrid in 2011 remain at the club although two members of the current side have experience of playing against Los Blancos – Fernando Llorente faced Madrid several times during his spells at Athletic Club and Juventus and while Toby Alderweireld never had the pleasure of taking part in the derby during his time with Atlético, he was part of the Ajax side that were lumped in the group stage with Madrid three seasons running from 2010-2012, so he won’t be fazed by the Bernabéu.
Man to watch: Harry Kane. Spurs are looking strong in all departments but Kane particularly has really come into his own this season – he is arguably the most in-form centre-forward anywhere in Europe right now. His penetrating runs, pace and reading of the ball together with finishing of laser-like precision have made him a real joy to watch. Kane, who has deservedly made the shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or, will give
Madrid’s back four a torrid time of it on Tuesday night without a shadow of a doubt.