After an amazing start by European giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the opening day of the Champions League, Real Madrid will hope to dance their way to victory on Wednesday. The Spanish club will take on Sporting Lisbon in their first match at the Bernabeu.
The defending champions have been in a sensational form in the domestic competition, where they top the standings. They have won three matches on a trot, scoring 10 goals so far. With players like Cristinao Ronaldo is making a comeback after injury, coach Zinedine Zidane should be pleased as he marked his return with a goal against Osasuna in their last fixture.
This match is going to be special for Ronaldo, who will be playing against his former Club Sporting Lisbon. Zidane wants to play him for ninety minutes, and is aware of Ronaldo's "special moment".
"He's ready to play and the idea is that he'll play the 90 minutes. But anything can happen in a game. I always think about the 60 days that he's been out. I'm sure it's a special moment for Cristiano. Sporting is his club, he grew up there so it's to be expected. I know that Cristiano is very professional and when he's on the field he'll give everything. When the referee blows his whistle he'll be focused as always," Real Madrid's official website quoted Zidane as saying.
However, one cannot just focus on Ronaldo, as there is an embarrassment of richness when it comes to world-class starts in their team. Players like Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vázquez and Alvaro Morata have been named in the 19-member squad to make them look an even dangerous offencive side.
Despite possessing an array of stars, Real Madrid will have that pressure of being the defending champions, who are once again expected to come with a similar performance in the competition. They can achieve greater things if their players excel as a unit.
"When we have to back up the title we have won, everyone expects more from us. They expect us to win more and they are going to demand more from us. My plan to achieve that is to work day to day and to be prepared. I know that I've got a great team and a great squad. If we all work more and more every day we will achieve our objectives," Zidane said.
Sporting, like Real, have been amazing in their domestic competition. They have not lost a single match, winning all four; however, but this clash against the Spanish giants, without a shadow of doubt, is their biggest opponent this season so far.
Despite the tough oppositions they are stacked against, coach Jorge Jesus wants his team to provide problems for Real Madrid.
"We have been drawn against the European champion for our first game, but that won't change how we play. We will respect Real Madrid like we do every team. We believe in the way we play and in what the team is capable of. We are ready for a hard game and we will also create our own problems for Real Madrid", club's official website quoted Jesus as saying.
Sporting Lisbon are in a difficult group, which also includes Borussia Dortmund and Legia Warsaw. As of now, their focus will be on Real only, but they will have to play some brilliant football to finish on top two of their group, and progress beyond the group stages.
Where to watch live
Real Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon Champions League match is scheduled for 8.45 pm CET (12.15 am IST, 7.45 pm BST, 2.45 pm ET) start. Live streaming and TV options can be found below.
India: TV: Ten 1 HD. Live Streaming: Tensports live.
US: TV: Fox Sports 2. Live Streaming: Fox Soccer 2 Go.
UK: Tv: BT Sport Extra
Australia: TV: BeIN Sports Australia Live Streaming: Bein Sports Australia.
Middle East, Canada, Spain: TV: Bein Sports Arabia. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.