21.09.2015 » A look at Real Madrid's challenges in Europe this season
Can Real Madrid emerge from the shadows of their Spanish counterparts Barcelona to take their place in the UEFA Champions League sun? A favorable group draw certainly looks to have assisted Real Madrid's proposed assault of another Champions League title this year, as they've been drawn in Group A along with the like of Malmo, Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk. The Merengues topped their group last season with a 100% record amidst a weaker group that comprised of Liverpool, Basel and Ludogorets, but with Ronaldo spearheading the attack, Madrid are expected to progress from the group stages with ease again this season.
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# Ronaldo on fire!
This season's campaign has already started with an easy 4-0 victory at the Bernabéu stadium over Shakhtar Donetsk. If Real Madrid can maintain their winning form at home, it should make their away trips a little easier.
Real Madrid's jewel in the crown, Cristiano Ronaldo, will be aiming for a third Champions League winner's medal, following earlier successes with Manchester United in 2007/08 and present club Real Madrid back in 2013/14. Ronaldo's career has certainly flourished since his £80m move from Manchester United back in 2009, and if you thought he was already quite prolific during his tenure with United (notching 84 goals in 196 appearances in the Barclays Premier League), he has been positively on fire with Real Madrid.
His 80-goal haul in the Champions League is an outstanding achievement and he must be seriously considered for this year's Champions League top goalscorer. However and even though the Skybet app had him priced at 5/1 (6.0) for the Golden Boot award last week, that ship has now sailed as his price has now been slashed into just 7/4 (2.75) after he scored an amazing 8 goals in his last two games (five against Espanyol in La Liga at the weekend, which he followed up with a hat-trick against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League opener last Tuesday.
Ronaldo: "I feel so proud and happy to score eight goals in two games, but that is not my goal. My aim is to be good all season and for the team to succeed, which is the most important for me in order to win trophies", said the former Manchester United player.
Striker Karim Benzema and new signing Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan should share some of the goalscoring workload with Ronaldo, while Gareth Bale was also expected to feature prominently amongst goals and assists alike. However, the former Tottenham star suffered what appeared to be a calf injury against Shakhtar last week.
Right now, Skybet has priced Real Madrid at a slender 4/9 (1.44) to win Group A, but they're on a reasonably priced 5/1 (6.0) shot to win outright.
# Shakhtar Donetsk
Firstly, Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk, who progressed through to the group stages of this year's Champions League courtesy of a 3-0 aggregate win over Fenerbahce, followed by a 3-2 aggregate win over Rapid Vienna.
Shakhtar were hoping to put a spanner in the works against Real Madrid in the opening group match, but came up against a rampant Ronaldo and I daresay the nightmares of March were still lurking in the backs of their minds when they received a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of German champions Bayern Munich.
With just two away wins from their last eight on their travels in this competition, Shakhtar's best hopes of causing an upset seem to be at their own Donbass Arena. Betting apps, like Skybet for example, are now pricing Shakhtar Donetsk at 33/1 (34.0) to win Group A, while they're priced at 500/1 to be the Champions League winners.
Onto PSG, and they seem to be the most dangerous opposition to Real Madrid in this group, particularly having reached last year's quarter-finals following qualification from a group comprising of Barça, Ajax and APOEL Nicosia. This included a 3-2 home win over eventual winners Barcelona, but the Spanish giants exacted revenge in a 5-1 quarter-final aggregate win over the French side.
But make no mistake, PSG's home form will be pivotal to their success in Group A, as they possess a strong track record at Parc des Princes in this competition, where they've suffered just one defeat from their last 15 matches and have got off to a solid start with a 2-0 win over Malmo. Skybet app currently prices PSG at 7/4 (2.75) to win Group A, while they're priced at 14/1 in the outright betting for the Champions League crown.
Finally, Swedish outfit Malmo progressed to the group stages via a rigorous qualifying process which included wins over Zalgiris, Salzburg and Celtic.
Malmo will be keen to put in a better performance this time around, following just one win from last year's Group A, which was a 2-0 home victory over Olympiakos. However, Malmo's away form has been simply dreadful in the Champions League, as they've crashed to seven defeats from their last eight on their travels, with only a 1-0 win away at Lithuanian side Zalgiris.
Malmo's best chances will be to try and nick a point off the likes of Real Madrid and PSG and really go for it in the home and away encounters against Shakhtar Donetsk to keep up with the pace. Skybet app prices Malmo at 80/1 to win Group A, while they're a massive 2000/1 to lift the Champions League trophy. In the meanwhile, feel free to check out the Skybet app for the latest prices and stats for all the events in the Champions League!
Cristiano Ronaldo next game will be for Real Madrid on the 23rd of September of 2015, against Athletic Bilbao. You can watch Juventus live stream, Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid, Celta Vigo vs Barcelona, Sunderland vs Manchester City, Aston Villa vs Birmingham, and Bayern Munchen vs Wolfsburg, all matches delivered in our football live section.
Real Madrid next game:
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid kick-off time (23-09-2015):
Beijing (China) | UTC/GMT+8: 03:00
Jakarta (Indonesia) | UTC/GMT+7: 02:00
India (New Delhi) | UTC/GMT+5.30: 24:30
Spain (Madrid) | UTC/GMT+2: 21:00
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | UTC/GMT+1: 20:00
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | UTC/GMT-3: 16:00
New York (United States) | UTC/GMT-4: 15:00
Los Angeles (United States) | UTC/GMT-7: 12:00