Month and a half after the sheriff will blush to Madrid at the Bernabéu the back to normal. The white team won their two games against Shakhtar and balanced his balance; Moldovans they lost theirs with Inter, woke up from the dream and continued rampaging in their domestic competitions. There is no enemy in sight: eight league wins consecutive, at the rate of 29 goals scored and one conceded. It is what it has to live between two worlds.

They would have signed, in any case, their current situation in the Champions League, in which still alive miracle. With 28% possession and more than 25 shots against per game, they reach today’s duel with real chances of qualifying (follow the game live on Georgios Athanasiadis, 28 years old, Greek, goalkeeper, is the answer to the mystery. Canterano of Iraklis, he went through several modest Greek clubs (Ethnikos, Panthrakikos, Asteras Tripoli) until get to the AEK. He was there for two years. In the first he did not play anything. In the second, only in the final section. So he decided on the assignment to Sheriff, which paid 250,000 euros for a one-year loan. Nobody makes more stops in competition (6 per game) and nobody has had to stop so much in the history of the Champions League (11 interventions) to leave the Bernabéu triumphant.I don’t have any rituals. I just try to be focused and calm, “he confesses to the club’s media. Buffon’s admirer (” He had great technique, incredible reaction capacity and was a leader on the field “), was elected MVP of the clash against Madrid and also the second before him Dinamo Zagreb, in the last previous round of the Champions League that brought him here.

The Backlash

A shootout awaits Athanasiadis. Madrid fired 31 times in the first leg, and Benzema and Vinicius They are first and sixth in the competition’s pitching rankings, with 19 and 15 shots, respectively. The opportunities of Sheriff is it so on the backlash. That’s how they beat Shakhtar and that’s how they surprised at the Bernabéu. The Malian Adama Traoré is, with 11 goals, his best offensive trick. And the Luxembourg midfielder Thill, that comes from scoring with your selection and who made the 1-2 in Madrid, his key footballer in the center of the field. Is he best assistant of the group and has run more than anyone in the competition, almost 50 kilometers. Today he expects an alignment almost traced to the one he played at the Bernabéu. At most, his technician, the Ukrainian Vernydub, could leave on the bench to greek Kolovos to place Nikolov in the midfielder, along with Traoré and the Colombian Castañeda in the lead.

Although far from being a continental power, the oligarch Victor Gushan, a former KGB agent and Sheriff’s employer, has gifted to the club of a environment far above of the possibilities of the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria, a 25-kilometer wide strip between the rest of Moldovan territory and Ukraine. The separatist enclavea allows the presence of a Russian military base, with 1,500 personnel, in exchange for the gas supply of the territory. However, the region, strewn with statues of Lenin and Stalin and whose flag still features the hammer and sickle, has not stopped lose population since the end of the Soviet era. Around 250,000 people live there, a third of them dependent on Sheriff, the all-powerful business conglomerate of which the club is a part. Average salary of the population does not reach 250 euros per month, while many of the Sheriff’s footballers earn more than 15,000. And the stadium in which the team plays cost 200 million. A luxury for a region where the interest in wrestling or weightlifting far exceeds that in football.

A breath

This time the Madrid arrives warned. On car day at the Bernabéu Ancelotti allowed himself some licenses that the Champions League does not overlook. The most reckless, save Modric and Kroos in one fell swoop. THe also lacked the starting full-backs, Carvajal and Mendy, injured, and went Hazard holder. Since then, the Belgian has not returned to be in a starting eleven of Madrid and either will appear in today’s. He has not recovered from his last mishap, the gastroenteritis which also prevented him from traveling to Granada.

Ancelotti talks with Vinicius and Militao.

So Ancelotti is expected to move the tree little. Militao will return, the footballer who recovers the most balls in this Champions League, and it remains to be seen if one of his leading midfielders rests and if Rodrygo relieves Marco Asensio, as Ancelotti suggested, taking into account what was comes over to the team: Sevilla, Athletic, Real Sociedad, Inter and Atlético without respite.

The accounts are simple. If you win today in Tiraspol, Madrid will be in the round of 16 final. If he ties, he might need another point on the last matchday against Inter. With two tied he would be first in the group. It suits more than ever, because the first bass drum comes with claws and fangs.