Tonight in the Champions League we can watch both games featuring Madrid’s sides. Atlético Madrid play at 18:55 in the early slot, in line with the location, Moscow. The idea of playing some games early was designed for winter in this part of the world, so today we don’t have to choose which game to watch. Atlético are travelling relaxed, thanks to their efforts so far. The fact is, losing away to Bayern is permitted, even if the result was painful. But they beat Salzburg at home. Not entirely easily, it’s true, but the evening allowed us to finally see the João Félix we’d been waiting to see, and not just for his two goals, but thanks to his continuously decent play. He then scored another brace and played well in Pamplona. He’s in good nick.
Atlético have him, Luis Suárez, who is back today, and with Cholo’s new plan to play higher up the pitch to feed the Uruguayan, they’ll be pushing up on goal more. With all that, expect Atleti’s football to be pretty much as effective as usual, but rather less dense. Hopefully. Just after Atlético finish in Moscow, Real Madrid will take to the pitch in the Spanish capital. They aren’t in such a good position as their neighbours, but three points down, those they lost to Shakhtar. At least they picked up one point at the death in Germany, thanks to a furious, yet disordered assault on the Borussia Monchengladbach goal.
So for Real Madrid today is a final, as Zidane says. But it seems like this time Hazard will arrive in time, just like the cavalry in the films of my childhood. He was in fine fettle against Huesca, where he opened the scoring with a Puskas style goal, left-footed, and he links up well (as we already knew) with Benzema. The two play the same kind of thoughtful football, so different to Vinicius who may get the fans off their seats, but leaves Benzema frowning, obliged as he is to sprint off on runs with no guarantee there’ll be a ball for him at the end of it. Inter are without Lukaku and not in great form. That’s good for Real Madrid, who need a breather.