Los Blancos have been stuttering domestically this season and are currently positioned in fourth, and could use the shot in the arm that European success customarily gives them.
Madrid beat Inter 3-2 shortly before the international break in the Spanish capital and are currently third in Champions League Group B, behind Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk and ahead of the Italians.
Victory in Italy could take the Spanish champions top of the group depending on how the other game in the group goes, but if they’re to do that they’ll have to neutralise the considerable threat of Romelu Lukaku without their talismanic captain Sergio Ramos, who’s injured.
Romelu Lukaku scored 34 goals for Inter Milan last season, the highest tally of his career. So far in 2020/21, the Belgian has registered nine in nine games.
“In England they said that I was lazy,’ Lukaku, who joined Inter from Manchester United, said recently in comments carried by Diario AS. “That I didn’t run, that I didn’t do this or that. And here they say that I’m the hardest worker in the dressing room. Of course I have improved, but I’m the same Rom.
“At United there was the French group, the English group, the Latin group. At Inter there is a united team in which everyone speaks Italian, and a frank coach who, in front of everyone, watching the videos, will tell you what you haven’t done well.”
Both games Lukaku has missed this season, against Madrid and Parma, Inter have failed to win. He scored a brace against Torino on Sunday and is undoubtedly the greatest threat in the team.
He’s a threat Zinedine Zidane will have to legislate for. Inter play with three centre-backs, two wing-backs, three dynamic midfielders and Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, world-class strikers, up front.
Casemiro’s return is a relief for Zidane, as without him they lack a certain solidity, evidenced by their loss against Valencia and their draw at Villarreal. The Brazilian is expected to feature in midfield alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, despite having only trained twice with the group having suffered from COVID-19.
The absence of Karim Benzema and Ramos is a serious blow to Los Blancos. Without Ramos, Madrid have lost seven of their last eight games. Zidane will be hoping that this can be the game that sees Eden Hazard step up to the plate and deliver on his much-vaunted potential.
Featured image courtesy of Straits Times.