Thursday, April 18, 2024

Real’s accent on attack

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MILAN – Real Madrid and company will put their faith in attacking football again this week as Europe’s leading lights seek early qualification for the Champions League knockout stages.
Seven teams can progress to the last 16 with two matches to spare after a series of open displays showed that cagey wins and strategic draws are out of vogue in the group stages of the world’s elite club competition.
Jose Mourinho was defensive at times last season, when he led Inter to the Champions League title, but his Real Madrid side came out all guns blazing at home to AC Milan last month to record an easy 2-0 win.
The Portuguese could be planning an attacking return to the San Siro today given that Real know a fourth successive Group G win would put them through to February’s first knockout round.
The form of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored two more goals in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Hercules, is a reason for optimism for the nine-times winners – as well as Milan’s 2-1 home defeat by Juventus in Serie A this weekend.
“I’m in great form and having a phenomenal run,” Ronaldo told reporters.
Last season’s runners-up, Bayern Munich, were lax in defence during the 3-2 win over CFR Cluj a fortnight ago, continuing the overall theme this term, but that result means a top-two finish in Group E could be assured with a point in today’s return.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Olympique Lyon also have nine points from a possible nine, with Arsene Wenger’s side topping the scoring so far with a whopping 14 goals. Progression awaits this week for all three if they win, while a draw may suffice for the French club.
“We have matured,” Wenger said. (Reuters)

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