UEFA Champions League returns with Real Madrid the team to beat

UEFA Champions League returns with Real Madrid the team to beat

Marco Asensio will miss Real Madrid's Champions League opener against Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night because of an infected pimple, ESPN have reported. They first play away to English side Tottenham Hotspurs who are not much fancied to give Dortmund problems when they meet on Wednesday.

However, with the north London club draw in Group H along with record holder Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Mauricio Pochettino's men will have their work cut out for them in they are to impress on Europe's biggest club stage.

Ronaldo was given a 5-game ban for being sent off and pushing a referee in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona in August.

Striker Karim Benzema is another absentee, out with a hamstring injury, and he has been replaced in the squad by youngster Borja Mayoral.

The manager said that the squad was very excited with Cristiano's return as they try to defend their Champions League's title, although the mission would not be easy. And that's it. We will play tomorrow and we won't have him on Sunday. Luckily for Real Madrid, they should probably get by a team like APOEL without Asensio's services. especially since Cristiano Ronaldo (who is serving a La Liga suspension) is eligible to play.

Speaking on Ronaldo's return, Zidane said, "He is doing well, focussed".

It was in Munich in 2012 that a Champions League winning team last featured some African players. We are happy too because he feels good and is feeling good physically. "You're on a long contract, you're increasingly important, and the World Cup in next summer, get your head down" could have worked.

The midfielder was one of Africa's star performers during the recent global break, and his Man of the Match display against Valencia at the weekend - when he played 90 minutes in the heart of the park - suggests that Simeone could see him as a key man this term.

"We can't be happy with the results, especially the last one, but we're not going to change the way we work, just as we didn't a year ago".

Meanwhile, APOEL boss George Donis will be without three of his key first-team players, with Georgios Efrem, Facundo Bertoglio and Zhivko Milanov are unavailable due to their respective injuries.

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