Real Madrid v Sporting Lisbon - Wednesday 19:45, BT Sport Extra
Real Madrid’s quest to become the first side to retain the Champions League begins as they host Sporting Lisbon, the club where Cristiano Ronaldo began his career. Sporting were pipped to the Primeira title by Benfica last term and it looks like they’ll have a tough time bridging the gap to their Lisbon rivals after they lost two of their stars from last season, Joao Mario and Islam Slimani, in the transfer window.
Zidane was in charge for the knockout stages last term and Real kept an impressive five clean sheets in seven games under the Frenchman. Furthermore, he proved in his opening Clasico win at the Nou Camp when operating with Casemiro, Kroos and Modric in central midfield that Real are unlikely to be as carefree defensively under him as they have been in the past. Los Blancos have won 16 of their 18 Champions League home since 2013/14 including all nine group games in that time as they kept six clean sheets and led at the break in eight of these matches, with six of their wins by more than two goals.
Sporting have won all four of their league games this term and were last in the Champions League in 2014/15 when they won home games against Maribor and Schalke, but picked up only one point on the road as they lost 3-1 at Chelsea and 4-3 Schalke. If they’re similarly lackadaisical defensively then they could be in for a long night here and as a result we’re going to back Real Madrid -2 on the handicap but our standout would be for Real Madrid to win to nil and continue their excellent defensive record in this competition under Zidane.