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UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid v Juventus

Real Madrid and Juventus, two heavyweights of European football, go head to head at Santiago Bernabéu tomorrow in their next Champions League groups stage fixture.

The clubs have a lot of shared history, with Juventus having the upper hand in this fixture in recent times: The Italian club have won five of their last six meetings with Real Madrid. In fact, Real Madrid’s last win over Juventus came in 2005 when Ivan Helguera scored the winner.

Juventus won 2-0 on their last visit to this stadium as club legend Alessandro Del Piero scored a memorable brace to stun the home support. This will be the eighth meeting between these two sides at Bernabéu, and the home side have won five of those matches.

It is fair to say that Juventus are in more desperate need for a positive result in this game than Real Madrid, having drawn their opening two matches and lagging behind table toppers Madrid who have won both of their’s.

Team news and tactics

Real Madrid

Real Madrid vs Juventus - Di Maria has shone in the Champions League so far

Di Maria has been in stunning form, perhaps driven by Gareth Bale’s arrival?

Real Madrid have had a busy summer with big name arrivals and departures grabbing all the headlines. The Madrid club have made a good start to their season under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. They are currently third in the league table behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, having won seven of their nine matches. Their only defeat this season, in any competition, has been against their neighbors Atletico Madrid in the La Liga.

They have made a brilliant start to their European campaign as well with two impressive performances against Galatasaray and Copenhagen in their opening two matches. Madrid have scored 10 goals in these two games – conceding just one in the process. In their last European game, Los Blancos dismantled FC Copenhagen at home as Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria scored a brace each. With every other team struggling in this group, Real could virtually book their place in the next round with a victory against Juventus.

Real Madrid are coming into this game on the back of a 2-0 victory over Malaga, with Angel Di Maria and Ronaldo getting on the score sheet. This win helped them reduce the gap at the top as both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid dropped points.

Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have too many injury concerns at this moment. Record summer signing Gareth Bale has recovered from his injury and featured as a substitute in their last game, but the former Tottenham winger is not fit enough to start this game and will find his place on the bench. Xabi Alonso is also close to completing his return to the starting line-up, but he is unlikely to feature in this game.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make three changes to the side that he fielded against Malaga. Karim Benzema will replace Alvaro Morata upfront, while Raphael Varane will return to the center of defence alongside Sergio Ramos. Iker Casillas is also likely to feature in goal in place of Diego Lopez. Ancelotti used a 4-3-3 formation against Malaga in the league, but against Juventus he would go for a more conservative 4-2-3-1. Juventus looked vulnerable on the break against Fiorentina last weekend and Real Madrid have the right ammunition in their side to exploit exactly that.

Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Casillas (GK); Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira, Illarramendi; Di Maria, Isco, Ronaldo; Benzema

Juventus

Juventus have made a shaky start to their campaign this season. While they have won six of their opening eight league games, they haven’t been producing the performances that one has come to expect from them under Antonio Conte. They are already five points behind league leaders AS Roma and will certainly need to improve if they are to harbor any hope of retaining their Serie A title. The Italian side have won only four of their last eight matches in all competitions.

Real Madrid vs Juventus - Pirlo's experience needed at the Bernabeu

Juve will need all of Pirlo’s experience and pedigree to beat Real at the Bernabéu

The Bianconeri have also made a disappointing start to their European campaign with two draws in their opening two matches against Copenhagen and Galatasaray. In their last European game, Juventus conceded an early goal against Galatasaray, but two late goals in the second half from Vidal and Quagliarella looked to have secured a victory for them. Only Umut Bulut managed to equalize right at the end. It was a disappointing result for them and one that extends the lead at the top to four points for Real Madrid.

Juventus are coming into this game on the back of another disappointing result against Fiorentina in the league. Juventus dominated for 60 minutes in that game and had a two goal lead, but Fiorentina then came back strongly and the Juventus defence crumbled under pressure. Fiorentina scored four goals in fourteen minutes as the game turned on its head. Antonio Conte will hope that his side will have recovered from this morale shattering loss to their rivals ahead of this big game.

Conte has some injury concerns ahead of this game: Simone Pepe, Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella and Stephan Lichsteiner are all out of contention. Arturo Vidal, who missed the match against Fiorentina, has reportedly picked up an injury; concerns regarding his fitness ahead of this match means he could possibly start on the bench.

Antonio Conte is expected to make only one change to the starting line-up that was fielded against Fiorentina. Mauricio Isla is expected to replace Simone Padoin on the right. He will use his usual 3-5-2 formation and will hope for a much improved showing from the likes of Pirlo and Bonucci in this game.

Expected starting line-up (3-5-2): Buffon (GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez

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