Real Madrid round-up: Bale, Benzema, Asensio, Chory
A Champions League round-up ahead of the visit of Plzen to the Bernabéu includes Real's shortage of goals, a Jan Koller fan and Bale's double-century.
Bale’s double century
The Welshman will chalk up his 200th Real Madrid appearance on Tuesday against Plzen in the Champions League, a competition in which he has been decisive in three of the club’s four recent triumphs. Bale scored in extra time to swing the game in Real’s direction in the 2014 final against Atlético, buried his penalty in the shoot-out against the same opposition in 2016 and climbed off the bench to score a brace against Liverpool last year. Over the course of his 199 games to date, Bale has had a direct hand in 153 goals, scoring 92 and providing 61 assists. However, due to a raft of injury problems, Real’s most expensive signing in history has only managed 54.3 percent of the total minutes available during his Bernabéu career.
The BBA, in search of the net
Plzen are propping up Group G after two games and have conceded seven goals in 180 minutes so far, which on paper provides the perfect opportunity for Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio to snap a barren run that has now gone past the 1,000-minute mark. None of Real’s first-choice forwards have found the net during the side’s last five games, during which time the reigning European champions have lost four and drawn one in all competitions. In total, the BBA have gone 1,171 minutes without scoring, Asensio being the last player to hit the back of the net, against Espanyol on September 22. Since then Benzema (553 minutes), Asensio (358 minutes) and Bale (260 minutes) have failed to score once between them.
Chory, a Goliath among the Davids
Real’s Czech opponents are firm underdogs in the Bernabéu on Tuesday night, with most bookmakers giving Plzen little chance of pulling off an upset – odds of between 30/1 and 40/1 are available. However, they do possess a secret weapon who could be unleashed to test a back line that has been far from watertight in recent games. Tomas Chory, whose idol is Jan Koller, stands just two centimetres shorter than the former international colossus, who banged in 55 goals in 91 games for the Czech Republic. Chory has yet to find the net for Plzen in the league this season and has not been used in Europe, but during the international break he helped himself to four goals in a Czech Cup game against MFK Vyskov.
Odriozola, a market marker
The 22-year-old will get another chance to impress on Tuesday in the absence of Dani Carvajal and the former Real Sociedad right back is an indication of the task facing Plzen in the Bernabéu. Odriozola moved to Real Madrid for a fee of 30 million euros last summer; the Czech club’s entire squad are valued at the same amount.
Plzen looking to break their Spanish duck
The visitors on Tuesday have played on Spanish soil three times previously and have yet to score a goal. In 2011 they played Barça at Camp Nou and lost 2-0 and have played Atlético (2012) and Villarreal (2015) in the Europa League, losing 1-0 on both occasions. “We have to respect them, although we know we can surprise them at the Bernabéu,” said Plzen coach Pavel Vrba. “We’re not scared of them.”
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