Real confront Shakhtar


Real Madrid begin their 2020-21 Champions League campaign with a home match against Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk in a tricky-looking Group B on Wednesday, report agencies.

Los Blancos suffered a shock first defeat of the domestic season at the weekend and need to quickly pick themselves up against a Shakhtar side unbeaten in five.

After winning the Champions League in three successive seasons between 2016 and 2018, Madrid have now exited the competition in the last-16 stage in back-to-back campaigns. Zidane rotated his side for the loss to Cadiz and is expected to welcome back some big-hitters on Wednesday, including the likes of Casemiro and Ferland Mendy. 

Sergio Ramos was taken off as a precaution at half time on Saturday and seems certain to sit this one out, meaning a possible start for Eder Militao alongside Raphael Varane. 

Martin Odegaard, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are all out, meanwhile, and Karim Benzema could do with a rest ahead of El Clasico, so Luka Jovic is primed for a rare start. As for Shakhtar, the availability of key men Junior Moraes and Mykola Matviyenko is unknown, despite serving a period of self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

That could be a big blow for the visitors as Moraes has had a direct hand in eight goals in 12 Champions League games - the most of any player for the club since September 2018. Maksym Malyshev, Ismaily and Serhii Kryvtsov are definitely out through injury, though, with Dentinho among those in contention to come into the side. Madrid's focus may well be elsewhere, with a huge league trip to Barcelona on the horizon, but Zidane will know the importance of bouncing back from defeat last time out.