Lokomotiv Moscow will be looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Broussia Dortmund, but they could hardly have wished for a tougher assignment that a trip to the Bernabeu to face holders Real Madrid.
The good news for Lokomotiv boss Yuri Semin is that Real have already dropped points, having lost their opener to Milan; the bad news is that they are unlikely to suffer the same fate against the Russian side.
Nonetheless, Real coach Vicente del Bosque, is affording tonight’s opponents the utmost respect.
“This team is strong, and very dangerous on the counterattack,” said del Bosque.
“Lokomotiv eliminated good teams in the first groupstage, so we must be careful and aware that we are playing against a very competitive rival.”
“Do not expect to steamroll over them. Lokomotiv are a valid opponent. They need to be respected. It’s not because we crushed Mallorca that we are going to win all of our games 5-1,’ added del Bosque in a reference to Sunday’s liga win over Mallorca.
Lokomotiv have noinjury concerns although they will be without the suspended defender Dmitri Sennikov.
For Real, centre-back Ivan Helguera is also missing through suspension while forward Guti is expected to be on the bench, making way for Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo is in good shape and I must take advantage of the opportunities I get,” Guti admitted.
“I must fight for my place.”
For Del Bosque, defeat tonight is unimaginable.
“We have to obtain the three points,” he said. “Our supporters will help us to win. This is a very important match.”