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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Holders Real look set to show their class at Wembley

Spurs could struggle to contain the lively visitors

Real Madrid will be pumped up to perform after losses to Girona and Spurs
1 of 1

Champions League
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday

Tottenham have matched Real Madrid stride for stride in Group H but they may take a backward step at Wembley as the Spanish side look the likelier winners.

The Premier League side were handed a major boost this week with Harry Kane's return to training but even if Tottenham's talisman starts the game, it may not be enough to overcome a Real side, who have not tasted defeat in a Champions League group stage away game since losing 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund in October 2012.

Mauricio Pochettino surprised Real with a bold team selection at the Bernabeu - selecting Kane and Fernando Llorente in a 5-3-2 formation.

The strategy paid off with the Londoners trading attacks with Real and ending up with a creditable 1-1 draw.

However, Real exerted control of the midfield for most of the match - dominating the possession statistics 61 per cent to 39 - and had the better of the clear-cut chances.

For the most part Tottenham were content to soak up pressure and look to hit on the counter-attack.

However, they may struggle to carry out a similar containing strategy at Wembley, where the majority of a large crowd will be urging them to attack.

From a Spurs perspective there are good reasons to take a few risks and push for the win.

With seven points in the bag they are highly likely to qualify and their best chance of finishing top of the group is to beat Real.

Spurs are boosted by Dele Alli's return from suspension but their midfield is below strength with Victor Wanyama sidelined and Mousa Dembele some way short of full fitness.

Dembele struggled to adjust to the pace of the game when coming off the bench during Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Manchester United.

It was only after his introduction for Mousa Sissoko that Spurs lost control of the game and, in the end, they could have no complaints over the result.

Spurs masked their midfield weakness in Madrid by sitting deep and handing over the centre of the pitch to Real.

But Real are likely to have learned from the experience and will be much more alert to Tottenham's counter-attacking threat.

Zinedine Zidane has injury problems with first-team regulars Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Rafael Varane and Gareth Bale ruled out.

But the first-choice midfield trio of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos are available and are likely to exert a stranglehold on the game.

Real suffered a shock defeat at the weekend, going down 2-1 at Girona.

However, that experience will make them all the more determined to bounce back with a strong performance in Europe and they look good value at odds-against to make it three group-stage wins out of four.

Real Madrid
1pt 5-4 general

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Team news
Erik Lamela (match fitness) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are ruled out and Harry Kane (hamstring) is a doubt although he has returned to training.

Real Madrid
Raphael Varane picked up a muscle strain at the weekend and has joined Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic, Dani Carvajal and Keylor Navas on the sidelines. Isco was withdrawn with an injury at the weekend but has travelled to London.

Key stat
Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 14 away fixtures in the Champions League group stage.

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Spurs are boosted by Dele Alli's return from but their midfield is below strength with Victor Wanyama sidelined and Mousa Dembele short of fitness
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