Real Madrid-Ludogorets Preview: James out of action as holders chase perfect record

The Liga leaders can claim a sixth win from six against the Bulgarians at Santiago Bernabeu, but the visitors are still fighting to secure a Europa League spot


Real Madrid show no signs of going easy on Champions League minnows Ludogorets as they look to maintain their record run of wins.

The Spanish giants are already assured of top spot in Group B following five straight victories, marking an impressive start to their European title defence.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are also flying high at the top of La Liga after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Celta Vigo made it 18 wins on the bounce in all competitions.

However, any thoughts of taking their foot off the gas against Ludogorets on Tuesday appear to have been banished.

“The key is to keep up this consistency,” Germany midfielder Toni Kroos told the club’s official website. “We have to keep working like this and winning games.

“What’s most important isn’t the record for wins, but keeping on winning every game.”

Defender Marcelo echoed that view as Madrid look to maintain the only 100 per cent record in Europe’s elite club competition this term.

“The record is very important but we want to carry on working, fighting hard and winning, and to do that we have to be focused and we can’t afford to relax,” said the Brazil star.

“We can’t take anything for granted. The secret is hard work, fighting spirit, togetherness and everyone showing desire.”

Of course, Real also have the prodigious talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a record 23rd La Liga hat-trick against Celta – taking his tally to 200 in the Spanish top flight.

Ancelotti’s men have scored 67 goals during their 18-game winning sequence, with the Portugal forward netting 27 of those.

“It is a real advantage to have Cristiano playing for us,” said the Italian coach. “He is playing really well and he is in peak physical condition; he is extraordinarily motivated at the moment.”

The only negative for Real from Saturday’s win was a calf injury to James Rodriguez, while Luka Modric (thigh) was already sidelined, but Isco returns from suspension and Sami Khedira (concussion) is also available.

Ludogorets had the audacity to take an early lead against Real in Bulgaria at the start of October, before Ronaldo and Karim Benzema replied to Marcelinho’s strike.

The visitors are out of contention to reach the knockout rounds, but will finish third if they can better Liverpool’s result against Basel.

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12 2014
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