Real Madrid are anxious to dispel the
doubts about their early season form with a convincing win against Group
B leaders Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Real dropped into the bottom half of the Spanish league table after a
disappointing 1-1 draw away to Real Betis on Saturday and now trail
unbeaten leaders Barcelona by nine points after seven matches.
Perhaps of even greater concern for the nine-times European champions
has been the failure of their much-vaunted forward line to find the back
of the net.
Despite the presence of Ronaldo, Raul, Michael Owen and Fernando
Morientes, Real have scored just five league goals so far this season
and two of those have come from set pieces.
The good news, though, for coach Mariano Garcia Remon is that Ronaldo
rediscovered his scoring touch when he grabbed his second goal of the
season with his well-taken equaliser against Betis.
Defender Ivan Helguera believes that if the team gets the breaks in
front of goal they will be able to put all talk of a crisis at the club
"It's surprising that we are finding it so difficult to score given the
players we've got up front, but we aren't worried because we know the
goals will come.
"We are on a bad run at the moment but all we need is a little luck and
we'll be back to form."
Real opened their campaign in Europe with a shock 3-0 defeat at the
hands of Bayer Leverkusen, but they can take some comfort from the fact
that they produced some of their best football of the season in their
second match at home to AS Roma.
Trailing 2-0 after 22 minutes, Real threw caution to the wind as they
fought their way back into the game to pull off a memorable 4-2 victory
over the Serie A side.
Real face the Ukrainian champions without David Beckham, who is out for
up to month after fracturing his ribs while on international duty, and
suspended Argentine defender Walter Samuel.
If he manages to shake off a minor thigh injury, Guti will step into the
boots of the England captain in the centre of midfield, while Helguera
is likely to drop back into the centre of defence.
The absence of Samuel may prompt coach Garcia Remon to go for a more
attacking line up and give Owen another chance to open his account for
Real alongside Ronaldo, while dropping Raul back into midfield.
Kiev, who have swept to the top of the group with wins over Roma and
Leverkusen, warmed up for Tuesday's clash with a comfortable 2-1 win at
Volyn Lutsk in a Ukrainian Cup quarter-final, first leg tie despite
resting most of the first-team regulars.
Maris Verpakovskis scored both of his side's goals against Lutsk, but
the Latvia striker is suspended for the match at the Bernabeu after
picking up his second yellow card in last month's 4-2 victory over Bayer
However, coach Josef Sabo will be able to count on all his other top
players including Dynamo captain and Belarus playmaker Valentin
Belkevich who has recovered from a painful back injury.
Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 2-Michel Salgado, 22-Francisco Pavon,
8-Ivan Helguera or 15-Raul Bravo, 3-Roberto Carlos; 10-Luis Figo,
14-Guti or 8-Ivan Helguera, 5-Zinedine Zidane, 7-Raul, 11-Michael Owen,
Dynamo Kiev: 1-Olexander Shovkovsky; 3-Serhiy Fyodorov, 17-Tiberiu
Ghioane, 26-Andriy Nesmachny, 32-Goran Gavrancic; 4-Rodolfo, 8-Valentin
Belkevich, 14-Andriy Husin, 15-Diogo Rincon, 37-Ayila Yussuf; 9-Kleber
Referee: Gilles Veissiere (France)