Real Madrid appeals to its ‘Champions mode’

Real Madrid appeals to its ‘Champions mode’

Ancelotti’s men receive Braga after the unexpected stoppage against Rayo and with the aim of prolonging the continental plenary session to seal the round of 16


Real Madrid receives the Portuguese Sporting de Braga this Wednesday on matchday 4 of the group stage of the 2023-2024 Champions League, a duel in which the whites will seal their ticket to the round of 16 if they achieve a victory, which would also be balmy. after the last and unexpected domestic setback at home, while the Portuguese team seeks to surprise the Madridistas and get involved in the fight for second place in Group C.

The recognizable Champions League anthem will be played again at the Santiago Bernabéu (9:00 p.m.) a month and a half later, with the continuity of the continental plenary session and the qualification for the crossroads at stake. At a time when doubts surround a Madrid team that was unable to overcome its 0-0 fiefdom, despite more than 20 shots, against Rayo Vallecano, which had not scored at the Bernabéu since 99-00 . With a Jude Bellingham with wet powder and a Joselu also without success, Real Madrid suffered from a worrying lack of punch.

Thus, as on many other occasions, the 14-time European champion takes refuge in ‘Champions mode’ to resolve the uncertainty that the whites’ gray match against Vallecas could have generated. The result was not the only bad thing for Real Madrid, since a bad shoulder support from Bellingham in the opening minutes set off alarm bells.

The English midfielder, scorer of 3 goals in the Champions League and 13 in all competitions, was able to continue with the help of a bandage, although he has entered the squad and will be available for Ancelotti. The Italian has few options to rotate due to the latest injury to Aurelien Tchouameni. His place, as in the League, will be occupied by Eduardo Camavinga, who would be accompanied by a rested Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde, while Arda Güler anxiously awaits his debut, now fully recovered.

Those in charge of ending the scoring drought will be a slightly toned Rodrygo Goes, a substitute against Rayo and with only 2 goals this season, and a Vnícius Júnior in the spotlight in recent weeks for his attitude on the field of play. Faced with the voices that accuse the Brazilian of exaggerating and provoking, Ancelotti defended in advance of his footballer that he “continues to make a difference”, although he must “improve his attitude in some circumstances.”

Only with the addition of Ferland Mendy on the left in defense and with the usual diamond, Real Madrid will try to establish itself at the top of Group C, maintain its continental position and ensure its presence in the round of 16 of the competition. They will do so against a Braga team that made the whites sweat the victory (1-2) at ‘La Roca’, in a match that was complicated at times for the visitors, despite being ahead with a comfortable 0-2.

Thus, the Madridistas should not relax, under the affection of their public, who are still waiting for a great European night, after the poor home opener against Union Berlin two months ago with a scarce 1-0. “Finishing classified after four games would be good. We need to be at our best. Braga created a lot of problems for us. If you don’t defend well, what happened in the last 30 minutes happens, when we lowered our arms thinking that the game was over,” analyzed Ancelotti in the previous one.

Precisely, that final stretch in which they put the Madrid team in trouble is the main incentive for Braga in the imposing Bernabéu. The meringues have not lost in the Champions League since April 2022 – 8 games unbeaten (W7 and D1) -, when they fell to Chelsea in the second leg of the quarterfinals, a match that the whites finally overcame. Furthermore, no Portuguese team has managed to win at the Bernabéu, so their visit becomes a challenge as well as a complicated undertaking.

Braga, third in the group with 3 points – they beat Union Berlin (2-3) – will have to decide whether to enter the Madrid fiefdom for the first time with the same brave proposal that they built at home, although with the risk of giving too much facilities to a Real Madrid comfortable with spaces. And they will try it with their morale through the roof, after the last win (6-1) in the League against Portimonense, supported by their good performance as a visitor (only one defeat so far this year).

The Portuguese could be more vertical with the inclusion from the start of Bruma on the side, as sharp as the scorer in the first round match Álvaro Djaló. Although he could choose to be more conservative and populate the midfield, led by Al Musrati, the compass of the Portuguese – 81 actions with the ball against the whites and 61 completed passes, the most of his team – and the magic of Ricardo Horta .



REAL MADRID: Kepa; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Alaba, Mendy; Camavinga, Valverde, Kroos, Bellingham; Vinícius and Rodrygo.

BRAGA SPORTING: Matheus; Mendes, Saatci, Niakate, Borja; Al Musrati, Carvalho; Bruma, Ricardo Horta, Djaló; Banza.

–ÁRBITRO: Halil Umut Meler (TUR).

–Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

–TIME: 9:00 p.m./Movistar Champions League.