Borussia Dortmund are sweating on the fitness of Ilkay Gundogan, Mario Gotze and Marcel Schmelzer ahead of their Champions League encounter with Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Midfielder Gundogan has been missing from action with a back problem and is unlikely to return, while Gotze (hamstring) and Schmelzer (foot) will be handed late fitness tests.
Real Madrid welcome Sami Khedira back into the squad after he missed the win over Celta Vigo because of a leg injury sustained on international duty with Germany.
Full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao remain sidelined, so Sergio Ramos and Michael Essien will continue at right and left-back respectively.
- The Bundesliga giants have never beaten Real Madrid in European competition in four attempts (D2, L2).
- Dortmund have failed to win any of their last five home encounters with Spanish clubs.
- Real Madrid have won five of their last six matches across all competitions.
- The Castilian side have won just one of their 23 previous away games against German opponents (W1, D6, L16).
- Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, right) has scored four goals in the Champions League; more than any other player this season. He has also had more attempts on target (14) than any other player.
It is not every day Cristiano Ronaldo is not the centre of attention, but photographed next to professional basketball player Sun Mingming, who stands at a whopping 7 ft 9 inches, the Real Madrid attacker should understand why.
The Los Blancos forward has posted a picture of himself alongside the Beijing Ducks player on his Facebook page, as the Chinese centre visited the club’s Valdebebas training ground.
The former Manchester United winger can attest to not exactly being small, measuring approximately 6 ft 1 inches, but compared to his fellow athlete, he comes up a little short, with a full 1ft 8 inch difference between the two global superstars.
However Extra Time is sure the picture will not damage the 27-year-old’s ego too much, after recently becoming the third youngest European player to reach a century of international appearances and continuing to impress for the Spanish champions, scoring 15 goals in 12 appearances so far this season.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has spoken about his psychological progress since arriving in the Spanish capital.
In an interview ahead of Real’s trip to Borussia Dortmund, the 24-year-old discussed what he has gained playing under coach Jose Mourinho.
“The coach has worked with me on the mental side of the game. Now I’m stronger in that regard. I’ve had many ups and downs in Madrid, but I’m still here. Mourinho is a great coach and very supportive,” the France international explained to Uefa.com.
He then went on to give his take on the pressure that footballers have to deal with.
“Pressure has been part of my life since I was at Lyon, but here it’s more intense because I’m at the best club in the world,” he said.
“But I don’t feel pressure during games otherwise I’d be paralysed and unable to play. I forget it by talking to my little brother.
“Overall I’m quite shy. When people get to know me they realise I like to have fun and I’m always laughing.”
Benzema continued by reflecting on Real’s efforts in last season’s Champions League, a run to the semi-finals that was halted by die Roten.
“Unfortunately we lost to Bayern Munich on penalties, and we were all disappointed because we thought we could win the competition. But looking back, I think we had a great campaign.”
Looking ahead towards their match against die Borussen, he said: “Borussia Dortmund are a great team. It’ll be a tough game as those against Manchester City and Ajax were. It’s up to us to go there and achieve a great result.”
Real Madrid take on Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. The match begins at 20.45CET.
China coach Jose Antonio Camacho has revealed that Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta got his Fifa Ballon d’Or vote, with fellow Spain internationals Iker Casillas and Xavi occupying second and third spot in his personal top three.
Portugal international Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi are seen by many as the favourites to win the prestigious individual trophy, but Camacho did not award either of the two any points.
“I have voted for Iniesta, ahead of Casillas and Xavi. The best players are Spanish, right,” Camacho was quoted as saying by Marca.
Camacho then had his say on the Liga title race and stressed that it will be hard for Real Madrid to close the gap on Barcelona.
“Madrid are not Real Madrid’s problem. Their problem is that Barcelona are around, and that they have some spectacular players.
“It will not be easy to make up eight points. That’s three games. It’s nearly impossible unless Barca somehow collapse. Barcelona will obviously have a few problems, but they even win when they struggle.”
Barcelona share first place in La Liga with Atletico Madrid with 22 points from eight games, whereas Real Madrid will have to settle for fourth place for now.