With a 3 goal advantage already under their belts, it would seem as if Real Madrid are all but packed and ready for their Champions League semi-final when they look to seal the deal against Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night, as Bet365 predictably offer short odds on victory at the Bernabeu.
Apoel have amazed the millions in reaching this stage of the competition this season after breaking the previous best for a Cypriot side’s progression in the Champions League.
However, that run now looks set to come to a close as the club face the unenviable task of turning over a huge deficit at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Scoring on Real Madrid’s turf has proven difficult for the best of teams this season and regardless of how well they might have done in this year’s campaign, Apoel are bound to find it just as hard when they make their journey to the Spanish capital.
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Unfortunately for the Cypriot club, Jose Mourinho is adamant that he will “show respect” to Apoel this week and not take Real’s already strong position for granted.
Los Blancos have scored a huge four goals per game on average this season when playing at home and depending on how Mourinho goes about his team choice, it looks likely that the La Liga giants will extend their three goal tally.
However, the Real defence has been another issue entirely as the leaders of the Spanish top flight have conceded an average of 1.13 goals per game at the Bernabeu, making them only the tenth best side in terms of home defence.
Mourinho remains confident of his side’s chances of progression and speaking earlier in the week, stated: “We have a good record in the Champions League over the last two years with many victories, the odd draw, and only one defeat, and we want to continue doing well.”
However, transfer rumours and speculation are just some of the issues that come with the responsibility of success and when confronted with questions of possible exits, Mourinho added:
“Last week I was supposedly going to Manchester City, (goalkeeper) Iker Casillas was going to Schalke 04, (winger) Angel Di María to somewhere else, Kyle Walker (of Tottenham Hotspur) and (Liverpool’s) Glen Johnson were on their way here.
“But the group is strong and we will stick together until the end when we will all laugh or cry together.”
No matter the stories that surround Real, the star-studded side remain massive favourites to proceed to the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League and look certain to do so on Wednesday evening.
The match provides the Spanish giants to give starlets such as Raphael Varane and Nuri Sahin some much needed first team action so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a relatively unknown face or two in the Merengues line-up.