Real Madrid vs Viktoria Plzen : Real Madrid will look to continue their recent recovery under Santiago Solari on Wednesday when they face Viktoria Plzen in a crucial UEFA Champions League encounter.
Following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, Solari has steered the team to two wins in succession, although they did leave it late on Saturday to overcome Real Valladolid 2-0 in La Liga. Victory here would leave them in a strong position to get out of Group G and into the knockout stages.
Plzen won’t be an easy assignment away from home, though. While they lost 2-1 when these two teams met at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Czech outfit created some clear opportunities and will fancy their chances of doing so again in front of their own supporters.
Unsurprisingly there was some nervousness around the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid toiled at times on Saturday against an organised opponent in Valladolid. But eventually Solari’s side had enough to get the job done.
The coach would’ve been delighted to see Vinicius Jr. play a part in the win, too, as the youngster has struggled to make an impact since his high-profile transfer in the summer.
He celebrated wildly as his shot deflected off a defender and into the net to break the deadlock for Madrid. Per Spanish football journalist Jason Pettigrove, his initial effort didn’t appear to be going on target:
Still, there was a vibrancy about the young Brazilian when he came into the game that Madrid had lacked for long spells. That was because key men like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale failed to sparkle.
Neither player was anywhere near their best in the win on Saturday, and ahead of this trip to the Czech Republic there are some selection dilemmas for Solari. Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC believes Modric needs to be taken out of the firing line:
While the midfielder does look a little jaded following his busy summer at the FIFA World Cup, Bale is out of form.
Early on in the campaign it seemed like he was going to relish being the main man in attack for Los Blancos following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. However, he’s lost the vigour that was present in his play in the initial games of the 2018-19 season.
The Madridistas had no issue with letting Bale know they were unhappy with his performance either, per the Spanish Football Podcast:
When Plzen and Madrid met previously goals from Karim Benzema and Marcelo were enough to see the defending European champions to a 2-1 win.
After losing to CSKA Moscow earlier in the competition Madrid have taken six points from a possible nine in their group; three points here would put them in a strong position to progress ahead of another meeting with CSKA and a tough trip to the Italian capital to face Roma.
Real are still a work in progress, and while that means their performance may not be the most fluid on Wednesday, they will get through in the end.