On at 02:03 CEST
The Real Madrid will have almost a path traced to last season to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after being framed in Group D where he will have two rivals from last year, the Italian Inter Milan and the Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as the Macedonian rookie Sheriff Tiraspol.
The 13-time European champion, semifinalist in the last Champions League, starts as the favorite to go to the crossover roundAlthough he hopes to do so without the same stresses, caused by the Ukrainian team, and surely with greater opposition from the current Serie A champion, ready once and for all to shine more in Europe.
The set ‘neroazzurro’, triple continental king, was crowned champion of Europe for the last time in 2010, season in which he signed the triplet from the hand of Jose Mourinho, but since then his name has barely resonated with some force in European competitions, although he was a finalist in the 2019-2020 Europa League, falling against Sevilla.
And this is the first goal for an Inter that has passed without pain or glory in the last three editions of the Champions League, where they have not even been able to pass the group stage. In 2018-2019, FC Barcelona and Tottenham blocked their way, in 2019-2020 again Barça and Dortmund, and in 2020-2021, Real Madrid, who won both duels (3-2 and 0-2) and Moenchengladbach, and even a Shakhtar that left him without the consolation of the Europa League.
Three setbacks that can be considered failures for a good squad which is no longer led by the iron hand of Antonio Conte, who left the club after ending the hegemonic dominance in Serie A of ‘his’ Juventus and whose position is now occupied by a Simone Inzaghi who has lost some key pieces.
Inter no longer has one of their great references above as the Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who has set course for European champions Chelsea, and has deprived Conte of maintaining the dangerous offensive duo he formed with the talented Argentine forward Lautaro Martínez, which remains one of his dangers.
The 3-5-3 ‘neroazzurro’ has also lost Achraf Hakimi, who left for the French PSG project, but neither has he suffered any further losses, finding good signings on the market to strengthen himself, such as that of an established scorer like the Bosnian Dzeko or a talented midfielder like the Turkish Calhanoglu, which will reinforce a line where the talented Niccolo Barella continues to excel. Handanovic continues to guard the goal, guarded by three level centers such as De Vrij, Skrinniar and Politano.
THE SHERIFF, A DEBUTANT WITH HISTORY
The rest of Real Madrid’s rivals seem accessible, although you will have to have your lesson learned when measured at Shakhtar Donetsk, a rival who was already able last year to win the two games of the group stage with enough solvency (2-3 and 2-0) and that complicated his life until the end.
The Ukrainian team does not appear in this Champions League as champion of their country, a throne that they gave to Dinamo Kiev, and had to enter the tournament after suffering a lot in the ‘playoff’ against Monaco, against which they showed their irregular line, winning in the Principality (0-1) and suffering the unspeakable in the second leg, decided in their favor by an own goal (2-2).
True to its tradition, Shakhtar, who is now coached by Argentine Roberto di Zerbi, continues to have a marked Brazilian color in his style and in his ranks there are a large number of players from this country, with Pedrinho among the new recruits and reinforcing a attack where Lassina Traoré has also arrived, coming from Benfica and Ajax, respectively. At his side national players such as the everlasting goalkeeper Pyatov, the midfielder Stepanenko, the central Kryvtsov and Bondar or the former Sevilla player Konoplyanka.
Finally, the group is completed by the surprising Sheriff Tiraspol. This team will represent Moldova for the first time in the highest continental competition, a country assigned by UEFA, although they themselves do not recognize themselves as Moldovans.
The Sheriff was born in Tiraspol, the capital of the Transnitria region, on the border with Ukraine, which proclaimed its independence in the early 1990s and has its own flag, currency and army, although it is not recognized by the international community.
Now, he will walk his name through some of the best venues in European football such as the Santiago Bernabéu or Giuseppe Meazza in search of continuing to surprise as he already did until reaching the group stage after overcoming four previous ones, the last two, with only one goal. fitted, first of all a European champion like Serbian Red Star and Croatian Dinamo Zagreb,.
Champion 19 times of the last 21 domestic championships in Moldova, the Sheriff brings together footballers of many and varied nationalities in a squad without excessive stars, including an American defense with the Brazilian Cristiano, the Colombian Arboledo, the Peruvian Dulanto or the Trinidadian Julien , a midfield with the international by Mali Adama Traoré and a forward with the Colombian Frank Castañeda, his most valued player.