The Champions League either makes or breaks you

While barcelonismo keep the bellows wafting away on the embers of the Lenglet penalty affair, the Champions League is back. The Champions League – a competition which can just as easily take away everything it gives a team. Much in the same way Madrid’s bullfighting venue Las Ventas is famed for being able to either make or break the status of those who step out into the ring. The Champions League is very similar, and more so with every year that passes. We have seen how national league competitions have gradually been losing relative importance. The constant successes of Messi’s Barça in LaLiga have been overshadowed by Madrid’s accomplishments in the Champions League. Last season, Real Madrid returned to win the league title but even that did not make up for their fiasco in Europe. The same thing is happening in other leagues.

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Hazard back in the squad 

It means that Madrid now have to underline the good result they achieved at Camp Nou with an equally good performance and outcome in their meeting with Borussia Mönchengladbach, a club they have met several times before in European competition. Madrid were left bringing up the rear in their group after crashing to a defeat at home to Shakhtar, and that makes the ramifications of tonight’s match even more important for Zidane and Co. In his squad list, the coach has included Eden Hazard – a player who we would all like to see freed of the two recurrent defects which have blighted his time at the club – injuries and weigh problems. That he is in the travelling squad is a good sign. Madrid need him, however distant he might seem from the player he once was. I would guess that he won’t be in the starting XI but may come on for the final half hour. Whatever happens, it’s a sign of progress that he has made the trip.

Cristiano to undergo Coronavirus test

Atleti meanwhile play host to Salzburg with their game kicking off at the same time. So unfortunately we won’t be able to watch both games live - a shame but that’s just the way things are with the new schedule. Unlike Madrid, Atleti don’t go into their game with a deficit of points as such because in a sense their defeat in Munich was not entirely unexpected; they will be hoping to make up for that crushing defeat nevertheless. And tomorrow Barça visit Juventus - possibly without Cristiano, who has been having a much harder time fighting off coronavirus than Donald Trump, quite odd when you compare their physiques. Also on Wednesday, Sevilla welcome Rennes. The four of them will be put to the test tonight and tomorrow and we will see if Spanish clubs are still a force in Europe, or as the pessimists would argue, a little further down the order.