Real Madrid will enter Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk knowing that a victory would see them qualify for the knockout round of the competition with two games to spare.
Los Blancos are top of Group F with nine points to show from their opening three matches, while Shakhtar are second in the section on four points, one point ahead of third-placed RB Leipzig.
Shakhtar gave a good account of themselves at Bernabeu last week, but they were beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid, with first-half goals from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior ultimately proving enough to secure all three points for the reigning European champions.
The Ukrainian giants are still second in the section, though, boasting four points from their three matches, having opened their group-stage campaign with a 4-1 victory at Leipzig before drawing 1-1 with Celtic.
Shakhtar would be vulnerable if they did lose this match, but they could still qualify for the next round of the competition by picking up positive results in their final two fixtures against Celtic and Leipzig.
Igor Jovicevic’s side have not been in action since the clash in Madrid last week, with their last league game taking place on October 1 against Metalist Kharkiv, recording a 6-1 win, which has left them in second spot in the table.
Shakhtar have not reached the knockout round of the Champions League since the 2017-18 campaign, when they were beaten by Roma in the round of 16, and they finished fourth in their group last term, which also included Real Madrid.
Real Madrid will enter this match off the back of a 1-0 victory over Getafe in the league on Saturday, with Eder Militao’s early header proving to be the difference between the two sides.
The win moved Carlo Ancelotti’s back above Barcelona to the top of La Liga, with the two teams set to lock horns in El Clasico next weekend, but Los Blancos will first be focusing on booking their spot in the knockout round of the European Cup with two games to spare.
Real Madrid opened their Group F campaign with a 3-0 victory over Celtic before beating Leipzig 2-0 at Bernabeu ahead of the 2-1 success over Shakhtar last week.
Ancelotti’s side will face Leipzig away and Celtic at home in their final two group games, but it is a case of when and not if the team book their spot in the knockout round of the Champions League.
Real Madrid, as mentioned, also locked horns with Shakhtar in last season’s European Cup, recording a 5-0 victory away before running out 2-1 winners in front of their own supporters.
The Whites have a busy end to October and start of November due to the season breaking for the World Cup, and Ancelotti will be hoping to continue putting wins on the board in the league and Champions League.