Here are five things to know about the Real Madrid-FC Copenhagen and Juventus-Galatasaray Group B clashes on Wednesday.
Carlo Ancelotti under pressure: Real Madrid fans were delighted when their side made short work of Galatasaray in the team’s league opener, winning 6-1. The tune has changed after Madrid lost a Spanish league match and drew another, leaving it in third place — behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid — in the standings. A stinging 1-0 home defeat at the Bernabeu to Diego Simeone’s men the first in 14 years drew whistles of derision from the fans. Some even chanted for the return of the once-detested former coach Jose Mourinho. Ancelotti has been accused of dithering, not knowing how to structure his attack and flip-flopping as to who is his first-choice goalkeeper. In La Liga he prefers Diego Lopez, but for the Champions League the Italian has said he will favour captain Iker Casillas, who injured a hand this year and has been sidelined for most of the time since.
Gareth Bale to the rescue: Ancelotti has made a point of telling Madrid fans he is an Italian coach and his teams don’t play the slow buildup when three passes will do the job just as well. For this tactic to succeed, Madrid needs to rely on speed, something that Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for. Now, there is a second speedster in the squad. Gareth Bale appears to have recovered full fitness and looks set to give an exhibition of the coach’s tactics against Copenhagen, something that was lacking in the flat-footed performance against Atletico, where Bale went on only as a second-half substitute. The question remains as to whether Ancelotti will stop doubting about where to play the Welshman on the right, where he has been seen to struggle — being a left-footer — or in the middle behind striker Karim Benzema.
Copenhagen expects huge pressure: Copenhagen had a bad weekend, losing 3-2 to archrival Brondby in the local derby on Saturday. Swedish goalkeeper Johan Wiland, who made stunning saves during the Champions League opener against Juventus that ended 1-1, said “we were too bad” and lacked focus. Wiland said he was worried about playing at the Bernabeu. “There is reason to be worried after such an effort. We must of course try to do our best,” he said. Coach Stale Solbakken noted Madrid lost to Atletico, but he expected “huge pressure.” The biggest challenge for Copenhagen, Solbakken said, would be the change of pace and to try and play his team’s own style and not always have to go running after the ball. It is the first time Copenhagen meets Madrid.
Juventus waits on Carlos Tevez news: Juventus kept up the pressure on Serie A leader Roma with a 1-0 victory in a heated derby at city rival Torino at the weekend. The Turin side is second in the standings, two points adrift of Roma. Coach Antonio Conte had been hoping to be able to count on the firepower of Carlos Tevez against visitor Galatasaray. However, a crunching back tackle on the forward’s ankle by former Juventus player Ciro Immobile has cast doubt on Tevez’s fitness. After the match, Tevez posted photographs of a bloodied and bruised ankle on his Twitter account.
Galatasaray takes Roberto Mancini to Italy: The Turkish side is to travel to Turin with its new Italian coach after signing a three-year contract with him. The former Manchester City coach replaced Fatih Terim and will, according to Galatasaray, be paid €3.5 million ($4.7 million) for this season, with his salary upped to €4.5 million for the following two seasons. Terim’s contract was terminated by the club last week after he rejected a two-year extension. Terim had been one of Turkey’s best known coaches and last month started a third stint as Turkey coach. Galatasaray had made a poor start in its domestic league, winning just one out of five games.