Real Madrid will look to assure their qualification in the second round after faltering against Legia Warsaw. Zidane’s men are 29 games unbeaten in all competitions, dating back to their 2-0 loss at Wolfsburg in the first leg of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Sporting CP will be eliminated if Real manage a draw. Here are 3 key battles when Real Madrid visits Sporting CP.
Luka Modric vs William Carvalho
Luka Modric has made an instant impact upon returning from injury. The Madrid team that drew against Legia Warsaw thrashed Atletico Madrid 3-0 at their home. There is a brilliant wave of flair and composure now when Real Madrid goes on the counter-attack. And one cannot help but notice the involvement of Modric in those moves.
The Croat has played only 6 matches this season owing to repeated injuries but has scored once already, creating six chances and no assists. Modric has completed 198 passes this season with a pass accuracy of 89%, of which 74% were forward passes.
He will have a tough opponent in William Carvalho. The Portuguese anchorman has been decent this season, creating six chances and two assists. He has completed 682 passes this season with a pass accuracy of 88%, of which 80% were forward passes. Defensively too, he has won 50 % of his duels.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Paulo Oliviera
There is no better time to get back into terrific goal scoring form for Ronaldo now. His hat-trick at Vicente Calderon was a reminder that Real Madrid were actually missing, his unreal goal scoring form. He has 8 goals in 9 games till now making 2 assists. He will be up against Paulo Oliviera, who is having a very good season till date.
He has an average of 5 successful tackles a game and considering that Ronaldo’s shot accuracy is 36%, he can stop the in-form forward if he doesn’t allow him much space. The aerial threat will be another matter of concern for Oliviera as his Portuguese compatriot is equally strong in the air.
Gareth Bale vs Ricardo Esgaio
It seems like that after his contract extension, Gareth Bale has found the form of his life. He has scored 5 goals and 2 assists in 11 appearances this season. He opened the scoring against Legia Warsaw with a brilliant volley from way out of the D-box.
The speedster’s shooting accuracy is 49% and Ricardo Esgaio will have to be hot on his heels to prevent him from scoring. He has been one of United’s primary target on the right-hand flank. But, the 23 years old might lack the pace to hold onto Bale. It will be a battle that might end the match even before it starts.