Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Sheriff – 2021/22
Champions League football is back at the Santiago Bernabéu. European newcomers Sheriff Tiraspol will be the first team to face the record holders at the Bernabéu for this season’s edition of Europe’s favourite competition. The Moldovan minnows, led by Ukrainian coach Yuri Vernydub were quite impressive in their first ever Champions League game some two weeks back. The Bernabéu awaits.
What to Expect:
Sheriff’s 2-0 triumph at home against Shakhtar was a display of composure and solidity. The game in Madrid however will be unlike anything any of their players have faced so far. Real Madrid on the other hand were hugely impressive in domestic games, but fell short of victory in a goalless draw against Villarreal last weekend.
It was the first time Carlo Ancelotti’s side had failed to score in a fixture this season. Unai Emery’s team were dominant and protective of the ball. They forced the home side back, and played with intent and sheer control in the first-half. The ball will be back in Madrid’s park when they play Sheriff, but it doesn’t guarantee them success.
The Moldovan club managed just 25% possession against Shakhtar on the opening day, but were absolutely blistering on the counter attack. The scoreline wasn’t representative of the nature of proceedings, but sure was indicative of which team took their chances well.
Sheriff play with something of an adrenaline rush when on the break. They aren’t afraid of committing their full-backs up the pitch, and are extremely clinical in front of goal. Carlo Ancelotti’s team will be up against an inferior and sometimes passive opposition.
Real Madrid welcome back Toni Kroos. The German was out for around a month with Pubalgia, the signs of which he mentioned had started as early as March. It’s great that he will return tonight, his presence in the centre of the park helps any team go about their football in a measured, controlled and meticulous manner.
His inclusion remains the only positive, as Carvajal, Mendy, Ceballos, Bale and Marcelo are still nursing their respective injuries. Fatigue and tiredness were evident on some players last week as Villarreal tore into what was a worn out team, to which the disfigurement and lack of discipline stood out at times. Rotations must be encouraged, and Real may very well see a bunch of them tonight.
Nacho — Militão — Alaba — Gutiérrez
Valverde — Camavinga — Asensio
Rodrygo — Benzema — Vini Jr.
Costanza — Arboleda — Dulanto — Cristiano
Kolovos — Addo — Thill
Traore — Yakhshiboev — Castañeda
Player to Watch:
Real Madrid: Marco Asensio. The Spaniard’s revival came last week, upon his return to the team and a return to his favourite midfield spot. Asensio may or may not feature in tonight’s initial eleven, but everyone’s looking forward to watching him play in midfield again. Insane what a bit of confidence does to you!
Sheriff Tiraspol: Cristiano. Not the Cristiano we’re accustomed to seeing at the Bernabéu, a very dangerous player nevertheless. Cristiano is a left-back who attacks with his preferred left foot, and has a tendency to contribute a lot of Sheriff’s play in the final third.
Pinpoint crosses, overlapping runs and a scary turn of pace, he’ll be hard to handle for whoever plays at right-back for Madrid tonight. Two assists on the opening matchday earned him initial acclaim, but we’re yet to see what the Brazilian defender can actually do.
Real Madrid 3-0 Sheriff Tiraspol.
Scoring goals and winning games is what Madrid have done better than anyone in Europe this season. It is what they do best and what will propel them to what is expected to be a fairly routine fixture at home. Unless Madrid don’t make their chances count, Sheriff have the odds massively stacked against them.