Real Madrid have little margin for error when Club Brugge visit the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday night.
The Bernabéu will host its first Champions League clash of the season against the Belgian side and Zinedine Zidane and his men know only victory will do after suffering a heavy 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in their Group A opener.
It’s still early days in the competition but Madrid know anything less than a victory would leave qualification still in their own hands but more complicated than they would have liked after drawing a favourable group.
“We have to give everything to beat Brugge,” Zidane said in his pre-match press conference. “The objective is to win because we are fourth in the table, that’s the reality. I’m focused on this match because it’s an opportunity to pick up points.”
The difference from the defeat in the French capital is that this time Los Blancos go into the match in stronger form, especially at the back Three clean sheets in a row have elevated Madrid to the top of the league table and they will know look to replicate that improved form in Europe.
A tie at home against Brugge, on paper, looks comfortable for Los Blancos but the visitors come into the game unbeaten and on the back of a 5-0 win at the weekend. They arrive in the Spanish capital with confidence and knowing Madrid are still far from unbeatable.
Philippe Clement’s men may also arrive in Madrid with the aim of returning with a point from arguably their trickiest fixture of the group. That could make life difficult for a Madrid side that is far from scoring goals at will.
Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez have both been left out of the 19-man squad, with Isco returning from injury. That may see Zidane opt for a front three of Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr. and Lucas Vázquez, with Luka Modric returning to a midfield three alongside Casemiro and Toni Kroos.