(Football news) With only the top slot left to win, Carlo Ancelotti will go into his match against his old club knowing that his Real Madrid team would be in the knockout stages come January 1. Real Madrid is the overwhelming favorite to advance as the section winners after winning four of their previous four games in the group. They simply need a point to guarantee their seeding for the December draw of the final 16.
Los Blancos have won eight of their last nine Champions League home games, with the exception being a draw against Manchester City in the previous season’s semi final. Given that they have not lost at home since early April, that is something that is very likely to happen.
Real has also had a strong recent record against Italian teams, having defeated Serie A teams nine times in a row, including a 3-2 victory on matchday two at the Maradona.
Real Madrid just needs a clean sheet, and despite major injuries to players like Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao, their defense has excelled at home this season.
In their most recent league match, Real Madrid was leading 5-0 when Hugo Duro’s goal for Valencia late in the game was the first they had let up in nearly ten and a half hours.
During that run, they defeated Braga 3-0 on matchday four to secure their place in the round of sixteen, but Andriy Lunin, the stand-in goalkeeper, had to make an early stop on a penalty kick.
After Girona’s defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao on Monday, Ancelotti’s team returned to action this past weekend, easily defeating Cadiz 3-0 to take the lead in La Liga.
If Napoli defeats Union Berlin this week and wins or just matches Braga’s outcome, they will advance to the round of 16 together with Real.4
Due to Union Berlin’s current struggles, the Neapolitans will play in the Champions League or Europa League come January 1, regardless of the competition; yet, they are still strong favorites to finish in second place after their victory in Braga.
Napoli will be making their fifth straight trip past the UEFA group stage, and they will be hoping to make it a record-tying second in this competition after they made it to the quarterfinals the previous year.