Tue, 26 Jan 2021

MADRID, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid flew to Ukraine on Monday morning ahead of their vital Champions League clash against Shahktar Donetsk with coach Zinedine Zidane no doubt still trying to figure out the reason for his team's 'bipolar' season.

Last Wednesday saw Real Madrid cruise to victory away to Inter Milan in a game vital for their Champions League future and now they need a win to book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

However, Saturday saw Zidane's side lose 2-1 at home to Alaves in a chaotic performance similar to those which saw them lost 3-2 at home to Shakhtar and 1-0 to Cadiz earlier in the season.

The coach has admitted that he doesn't know how a team capable of winning in Milan and Barcelona is also able to play as badly as they did in those defeats and a repeat on Tuesday would once again leave their European future hanging by a thread.

The good news is that Karim Benzema has travelled with the squad after missing recent games through injury, but his inclusion is balanced by the loss of Eden Hazard following the thigh injury he suffered at the weekend.

Sergio Ramos has also failed to recover from his hamstring strain, which means Raphael Varane will have to lead a defense likely to be comprised of Ferland Mendy (who is far more reliable at left back than Marcelo), Lucas Vazquez and either Eder Militao or Nacho Fernandez.

Both Tony Kroos and Luka Modric looked tired at the weekend and that could see with Isco or Martin Odegaard back in the side with Fede Valverde still out with a cracked bone in his shin.

Valverde's energy in the center of the park and his ability to pop up and score key goals in the opposition penalty area have been missed, but the Uruguayan is still likely to be out for a further fortnight and miss key league games against Sevilla and Atletico Madrid.

Zidane will no doubt look for his side to react to the weekend defeat as they did in the Camp Nou and against Inter Milan, but with his side's European future in the balance and two huge La Liga ties on the horizon, he knows that he needs to find some consistency sooner rather than later.

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