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Real Madrid are 'under pressure' to beat Shakhtar Donetsk in UCL opener

Published on: 21 October 2020

Real Madrid will be 'under pressure' to win their Champions League opener against Shakhtar Donetsk after the Ukranian side were crippled by coronavirus cases, according to Spanish media.

Los Blancos get their European campaign underway on Wednesday night and will be hoping the competition provides fresh impetus after an up and down season so far.

Zinedine Zidane's men were beaten at home to newly-promoted side Cadiz on Saturday, leading to a dressing room inquest and concern from a number of first team stars, and AS reports that the team will be expected to beat a depleted Shakhtar at the Bernabeu.

Madrid are already set to be without their captain Sergio Ramos, who picked up a knee injury on the weekend, and the report says Zidane must 'rehabilitate' his players to bounce back from their shock defeat.

They will be up against a side that has been 'severely depleted' by a virus outbreak, it adds, with their manager Luis Castro admitting they are 'living a nightmare' after eight players returned positive cases.

Meanwhile, injuries worries mean they arrived in the Spanish capital with just 13 fit stars. 'We now live in an atmosphere of fear,' Castro said. 'Suddenly being left without a dozen players is a nightmare for a football team.'

Marca's front page takes a more positive outlook, saying the Spanish giants have 'a hunger for the Champions League' as they seek their 14th trophy win this season.

They will also be without winger Eden Hazard, who continues his recovery from a muscle problem and won't return until after the next international break.

Zidane is facing an uphill task to boost morale at the club after the team fell flat against Cadiz, as he questioned his players' 'attitude' and 'intensity' against Cadiz, Marca reported this week.

He held crisis talks with the squad ahead of the European opener, with big names Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric expressing their dismay at the team's performance.

A must-win El Clasico against bitter rivals Barcelona is on the horizon this weekend, meaning there is little time for them to regroup - so a victory over Shakhtar is vital.


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