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Inter throw Madrid a Champions League lifeline


Scoring goals is what breeds confidence in a team and so when the goals dry up, it’s only natural that the team weakens. Real Madrid are really struggling to find the net of late – not only because they no longer have Cristiano Ronaldo, whose departure left a giant hole to fill, but because Florentino, who was preoccupied with plans to revamp the stadium, didn’t bring in a suitable replacement. It’s true that after a difficult first year, with Benzema taking up the slack as best as he could, Madrid made a double investment by signing Hazard and Jovic, but it hasn’t work out. So the whole of the attack is more or less dependent on Benzema, who is doing what he can but he is not a killer finisher. His partners in attack are constantly changing without ever cementing a regular place in the side. Vinicius has shaken the attack up a little, but Zidane isn’t convinced and nor is Benzema. Rodrygo and Asensio lack penetration.

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Madrid spared by Inter's win

And so last night, a decent first-half performance from Madrid produced just two shots from Asensio – one struck the post and the other was saved by Trubin. That was it. When Shakhtar took the lead in the second half, Madrid collapsed. This latest defeat leaves the feeling that a catastrophe could be just around the corner and rumours about Zidane’s future have already started doing the rounds. But in the other Group B game, Inter gave Madrid a helping hand. Inter have been Madrid’s saviours throughout the group stage and threw them another lifeline last night by beating Borussia Mönchegladbach. All of a sudden, the dark clouds cleared for Madrid – they will make the next round if they beat the Germans in the final group game, or even if they only manage a draw... if Inter can do them one last favour by beating Shakhtar.

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Atleti held

Following the game in Kiev was Atleti’s at the Metropolitano which left a bittersweet taste. Atleti played well, had Bayern (albeit without their big guns) at their mercy during the whole of the first half and part of the second; Carrasco was like a bolt of lightning, João Félix mesmerised, Llorente gave the team depth and edge in attack, Correa looked lively... It was great to watch, but they clearly missed Luis Suárez and for all their efforts came away with just one goal. And that's never enough against a team like Bayern who are so resistant to defeat. Inevitably, an equaliser arrived on 86 minutes, from a penalty converted by Müller, who had only just come on. It was a game that really should have finished 2-0 rather than 1-1 but that’s football for you. Now Atleti need to take points from their trip to Salzburg.