Following Real Madrid’s disappointing exit in the 2010-11 Champions League season to rivals Barcelona, Mourinho’s side will be looking to build on a strong start to the recent domestic campaign. The Spanish side are expected to excel in this season’s Champion League, with summer signings Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop adding to an already impressive squad.
However, these two players have still yet to make their Real Madrid debuts, and remain on the sidelines with a back injury and a knee injury respectively. Sami Khedira is also unable to play with a thigh muscle injury that was caused against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Copa. However, Mourinho himself is serving a touchline ban from UEFA’s disciplinary body and will not be on the sidelines in Real Madrid’s opening Champion League’s fixture with Dinamo Zagreb.
Nonetheless, these minor setbacks should not hinder Los Blancos’ ability to progress unscathed from the group stage, with the side never being eliminated at this point of the competition in their history. Madrid ended a run of six successive last-16 exits last season when they made it through to the semifinals, and all fans can be sure of similar or possibly improved success this season under the reign of Portuguese tactician Mourinho.
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to perform and lead to Madrid to glory. However, Madrid’s ability to overthrow Barcelona could boil down to new signing Fabio Coentrao’s form. His versatility allows him to play a defensive or midfield role, and the formation that Mourinho uses against each opposing team in the competition could centre on Coentrao’s preferred position in the squad.
Real Madrid CF (ESP)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
AFC Ajax (NED)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)