MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid made a perfect start in the Champions League and faces an unknown quantity in FC Copenhagen at the Santiago Bernabeu in Group B. Here are five things to know about the Real Madrid-FC Copenhagen and Juventus-Galatasaray matches on Wednesday.
CARLO ANCELOTTI UNDER PRESSURE: Real Madrid fans were delighted when the side made short work of Galatasaray in the team's league opener, winning 6-1. The tune has changed after Madrid lost a Spanish league match and drew another, leaving it in third place in the standings, lagging behind Barcelona and crosstown rival Atletico Madrid. A stinging 1-0 home defeat at the Bernabeu to Diego Simeone's men — the first in 14 years — drew whistles of derision from the fans. Some even chanted for the return of the once-detested former coach Jose Mourinho. Ancelotti has been accused of dithering, not knowing how to structure his attack and flip-flopping as to who is his first-choice goalkeeper. In La Liga he prefers Diego Lopez, but for the Champions League the Italian has said he will favor captain Iker Casillas, who injured a hand this year and has been sidelined for most of the time since.
GARETH BALE TO THE RESCUE: Ancelotti has made a point of telling Madrid fans he is an Italian coach and his teams don't play the slow buildup when three passes will do the job just as well. For this tactic to succeed, Madrid needs to rely on speed, something that Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for. Now there is a second speedster in the squad. Gareth Bale appears to have recovered full fitness and looks set to give an exhibition of the coach's tactics against Copenhagen, something that was lacking in the flat-footed performance against Atletico, where Bale went on only as a second-half substitute. The question remains as to whether Ancelotti will stop doubting about where to play the Welshman, on the right, where he has been seen to struggle, being a left-footer, or in the middle behind striker Karim Benzema.
COPENHAGEN EXPECTS HUGE PRESSURE: Copenhagen had a bad weekend, losing 3-2 to archrival Brondby in the local derby on Saturday. Swedish goalkeeper Johan Wiland, who made stunning saves during the Champions League opener against Juventus that ended 1-1, said "we were too bad" and lacked focus. Wiland said he was worried about playing at the Bernabeu. "There is reason to be worried after such an effort. We must of course try to do our best," he said. Coach Stale Solbakken noted Madrid lost to Atletico, but he expected "huge pressure." The biggest challenge for Copenhagen, Solbakken said, would be the change of pace and to try and play his team's own style and not always have to go running after the ball. It is the first time Copenhagen meets Madrid.
The 8 Best Natural Gas Stocks. Find Out How to Invest.