Raúl González will be looking to set a new
European goalscoring landmark on Tuesday night when Real Madrid CF take
on Juventus FC in a true battle of the giants as the UEFA Champions
League restarts after the winter break.
Raúl equalled Alfredo Di Stéfano's 40-year record and became the
joint-top scorer in European Champion Clubs' Cup history when he scored
his 49th goal against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 5 on 23 November.
He now has the chance to become the first player to register 50 times in
European club competition and there could be no finer setting than in
the opening leg of the first knockout round tie against one of Real's
oldest rivals with the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu as the backdrop.
Leverkusen, meanwhile, who drew 1-1 with Madrid on the night Raúl
achieved the record, travel to Liverpool FC while FC Bayern München face
Arsenal FC in the another Anglo-German match. PSV Eindhoven play last
season's beaten finalists AS Monaco FC to complete Tuesday's lineup.
The confrontation in Madrid is the very essence of European club
football at the highest level and will be presided over by two vastly
experienced coaches with contrasting Champions League CVs. Vanderlei
Luxemburgo, Madrid's recently installed Brazilian coach, will make his
Champions League bow while Juve's Fabio Capello, a former Madrid coach,
took AC Milan to three successive finals in the early 1990s, winning in
Both teams stumbled at the weeked in their domestic leagues with Real
beaten 2-0 at home by Athletic Club Bilbao, their first defeat since
Luxemburgo replaced Mariano García Remón during the winter break.
Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw at FC Messina Peloro and relinquished
top spot in Serie A to Milan on goal difference.
One side in superb form at the weekend were Bayern, who crushed BV
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 to retain pole position in the Bundesliga, and are
in a far better frame of mind than Arsenal who could only draw 1-1 with
first division (Championship) Sheffield United FC at Highbury in the FA
Cup fifth round.
Arsenal will be shorn of injured defender Sol Campbell and Dennis
Bergkamp, whose fear of flying has caused him to miss another important
European match. Liverpool face Leverkusen without their inspirational
captain Steven Gerrard, who is serving a one-match ban, while Monaco
will be looking to repeat their 2-1 win at Eindhoven in September 2003,
the last time PSV lost a home game in Europe.