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UCL Group Stages – Real Madrid’s road to Kiev – Pt 1
- Updated: May 10, 2018
Real Madrid have a date with Liverpool on a cold night in Kiev for the finals of the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League on May 26, and the journey has been nothing short of challenging for the Zinedine Zidane led Los Blancos in their quest for an overly unprecedented third consecutive UCL title win.
The road to Kiev for Real Madrid has produced exciting and enthralling encounters for both fans, rivals, and critics alike. The Santiago Bernabeu outfit have shown character in their survival of some scares in this year’s competition, and they have done it in style.
Real Madrid were drawn into Group H of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League to lock horns with three others in the likes of Premier League outfit, Tottenham Hotspur, Bundesliga outfit, Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia, the league Champions from Cyprus and supposed minnows of the group, although they proved a hard nut to crack for Dortmund.
Apoel Nicosia were the first casualties of Madrid’s dreaded attack line as they were routed 3 nil at the Bernabeu with UCL key men, Ronaldo and Ramos producing the goods. Cristiano Ronaldo started his ‘every game’ scoring spree on the night, a run that no one saw coming. The Portugal international grabbed a brace, a penalty inclusive, while Ramos consolidated the win with a third on the night. The route for the road to Kiev was set! With Ronaldo destined to be the spearhead.
A supposedly formidable opponent came in Dortmund on the road to Kiev on Match Day 2 at the Signal Iduna Park with the dreaded Aubameyang on show. However, Welshman Gareth Bale and Ronaldo once again produced the goods. Bale opened the scoring at the Signal Iduna Park to the chagrin of the Dortmund faithful. Aubameyang restored parity, before Ronaldo went into his elements with another impressive brace to put Madrid level on points with Tottenham Hotspur who now appeared to be the main opposition and threat to Madrid’s quest to come out tops in the group.
Then came Match Day 3. Zidane’s men were firm favorites at the Santiago Bernabeu against a Mauricio Pochettino led Spurs who had come into town, with the likes of Harry Kane who was eager to prove his mettle against the best in the game. The game started and all didn’t go to script obviously, as Varane scored an own goal in the 28th minute in an evenly contested tie to put Spurs in the lead. Madrid appeared out of sorts in the game after going a goal down, but there was always a certain Portuguese who would definitely get on the scoresheet if given a sniff of the opposition goal.
Ronaldo equalized for the Los Blancos in the 43rd minute in a game where both sides would subsequently settle for 1 all. This result put Spurs in pole position for top spot, with the second leg coming up in Wembley.
One of the nights of the 2017/18 UCL that Real Madrid would want to forget in a hurry on the road to Kiev came up on November 1, 2017, when Spurs welcomed the Los Blancos to Wembley for the 2nd of their consecutive two legged group stage tie.
Real Madrid were overwhelmed on the night, escaping a worse thrashing on the night as they suffered a 3:1 defeat. Dele Alli grabbed a brace, while Eriksen grabbed the third as the English club raced to a 3 nil lead. Ronaldo responded for the visitors with a consolation goal in the 80th minute. Spurs became the first club to win against Real Madrid in the group stage since 2012. This effectively ensured that they topped the group with Madrid finishing runners-up and set to face one of the supposed big fishes in the Round of 16 of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
Zidane’s men would then go on to prosecute the remaining two League games with ruthless efficiency. Apoel were once again on the receiving end on Match Day 5 and this time on their own home turf. The venue made no difference as the Los Merengues cut through them like a hot knife through butter in a 6 nil defeat that saw four different scorers and two players grabbing a brace each for themselves . Ronaldo and Benzema were the brace getters on the night while Luka Modric and Nacho Fernandez got a goal each to their name in a thumping victory away from home.
The last game of the group stages came by, with Dortmund visiting the Bernabeu with the intention of being party spoilers. The youngsters in the likes of Borja Mayoral and Lucas Vazquez were given a run in this one and they got their names on the scoresheet. Mayoral opened the scoring in the 8th minute, and Ronaldo was on hand to provide further lessons on how it is done as he scored the second in the 12th minute.
However, Dortmund didn’t just come to see the flashy lights of the Bernabeu and count stars. Aubameyang pulled one back in the 43rd minute, and scored the equalizer in the 49th minute. The game was evened up, but the Los Blancos were not going to draw consecutive home games in the UCL. Lucas Vazquez was on hand to score the third and subsequent winner in the 81st minute, and all was set for the possibilities that would come up in the Round of 16 draws with the Los Blancos finishing 2nd and set for a tough route to Kiev.
The road to Kiev was set. Ronaldo had scored in all 6 games in the group stage. The red hot forward had 3 braces to his name in the same stage of the competition. Real Madrid had 2 players who had scored braces for the team in the group stage in the likes of Ronaldo(3) and Benzema (4). The Los Blancos scored 17 goals in the group stages of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. They were the third highest scorers in the group stages behind PSG (25) and Liverpool(23), two sides that would eventually represent challenges, one on the road to Kiev which was PSG, and now Liverpool in Kiev on May 26, 2018.