Real Madrid have a golden opportunity to open up a huge lead in the Champions League group stage as they welcome Juventus to the Bernabeu. The battle of powerhouse European clubs highlights the star-studded matchday.
After two sets of fixtures, Real lead Group B with six points after convincing victories over Galatasaray and Copenhagen. Beating Juventus would not only give them a clean sweep after one cycle, but it would send a clear message about their UCL potential.
The Vecchia Signora are still on pace to advance, but were only able to manage draws in their first two group matches. If they don't elevate their level of play, Real will have little trouble on Wednesday, and Juve will find themselves in a fight for second place.
Let's take a look at all the key details for the Champions League encounter, followed by a breakdown of the top storyline and a match prediction.
Where: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain
When: Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Watch: Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 4
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Real Madrid: 61.7 percent
Juventus: 15.8 percent
Draw: 22.5 percent
Top Storyline: Can Real Madrid Continue Their Group B Dominance vs. Juventus?
Juventus have struggled to find top form in Champions League play, despite a solid start to the Serie A campaign. While they are sitting on just two points, they, undoubtedly, remain the biggest test Real Madrid will face during the stage.
Since Juventus let a couple chances slip away in draws with Galatasaray and Copenhagen, they have to come into the match with a more aggressive game plan than usual for a road fixture with an elite opponent. That's not to say a draw would be a terrible result, but they need to push for three points.
In turn, the Real attack should have plenty of room to operate. After a league match against Malaga where the Blancos were putting constant pressure on them but struggling to find the final touch, a wide-open style of play should suit them well.
Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane are all expected to be available to make an impact after overcoming various injuries. It gives Carlo Ancelotti more depth, which is something the club did well to improve over the summer.
Ultimately, the edge rests with Ronaldo and Co. They have been able to secure a solid string of results and should only continue to improve as Bale and Benzema work back toward peak fitness and form. It's a promising process that will continue on Wednesday.
Juventus will have to lean heavily on the midfield, led by Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo, to control the pace of play early. They want to push forward in search of the road triumph but can't go overboard because Real Madrid will capitalize on the counter.
That battle in the middle of the pitch is the biggest key. If Real can win it and distribute the ball to the wings, where Ronaldo and Angel di Maria have been playing very well, they should be able to attack the Juventus back line with crosses.
All told, it sets up as a entertaining, hard-fought clash with an edge to the home squad.
Real Madrid 2, Juventus 1