If the match in Madrid was something of a free hit, then what is tonight? Another one I suppose. On paper this is a game to help decide who finishes top of the group, in fact we are aware that it is the games in Dortmund and the return against Apoel that are the key fixtures. Good results in those games will probably see us through to the knockout stages which is effectively what we’re after once the Danny Rose tinted goggles are removed.
Injuries, illness and a suspension forced Poch to make changes and spring a surprise by fielding Llorente for the game in Madrid but for this return fixture he has Dembélé, Davies and Dele back and available meaning that he shouldn’t have to apply quite so much thought to our setup.
With Sanchez back in the middle between Toby and Jan between Davies and Trippier/Aurier, we have the luxury of potentially fielding all of Winks, Dier and Dembélé in the centre to counteract what keeps being quoted as the best midfield in Europe. Some combination of Eriksen, Dele, Son and Llorente would make up the rest of the side. Maybe.
The availability of Kane is the known unknown, him starting from the bench is most likely I’d have thought. Ten days to recover from a hamstring injury seems remarkably quick no matter how much of a Superman you are.
Real Madrid come to Wembley for the very first time and like us, they come on the back of a league defeat. Their performance in their shock 2-1 loss, after being ahead, to Girona is described by the Guardian as being by “a team lacking inspiration or intensity, suffering a striking disconnect between their players, disorganised and so overrun all across the pitch that Zidane ended up replicating Girona’s formation in an ultimately futile attempt to plug the leaks.” So that’s not good. They also have injuries with Bale, Kovacic, Varane and Carvajal not travelling but their performances in the Moneybags League have been of different gravy to those in La Liga thus far and despite the loss of those four they still will field a side full of glam A-Listers.
It’s a game to enjoy for our team and the fans. Wembley (spit spit) will be packed to the rafters and all being well we should get to witness something memorable. If we get a good start and play to our potential we may spring a Girona like surprise and take a giant step towards the next stage. We should not be greedy though, another draw would be a superb result.
The match officials are from Turkey.
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