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In-form Madrid look to close out Group D

21 Nov 2011 22:16:39

In-form Madrid look to close out Group D

Real Madrid go into Tuesday night's home game against Dinamo Zagreb knowing that a fifth straight Champions League victory will guarantee them the top spot in Group D.

Their Champions League record has been impeccable up to now after four straight wins, making them the only team left with a 100% record in the competition.

With ten goals scored and none conceded in those games, even a draw on Tuesday will almost guarantee they top the group ahead of Ajax or Lyon, who are battling it out for second place and qualification from the group.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho celebrated a crucial 3-2 away victory on Saturday night over Valencia in the Spanish league as if his team had won a record 10th Champions League final, ultimately one of their objectives this season.

The win at Valencia was the 'merengues' eleventh straight victory in all competitions giving Mourinho his longest run of consecutive wins in a glittering management career.

German midfield star Mesut Ozil arrived in Madrid at the same time as Mourinho in August 2010 as one of the Portuguese's first signings and has been key to the team's recent successful run.

He was clear on Sunday about what it will take to defeat Zagreb again after a tight 1-0 victory in Zagreb in the first game of the group in September.

"They are strong and fighters and its no coincidence that they are in the Champions League, in the first game they caused us a lot of problems," he said.

"But this time we are at home where we are very strong and if we stick to our game we will achieve our objective of three points."

"We have won all our games at home because we are like a family and each player fights for their colleagues, that is certainly what a lot of our success is based on."

One member of that family who could be on show on Tuesday is Brazilian star Kaka, despite not being available for the trip to Valencia at the weekend.

Kaka has finally started to show the promise that made Madrid pay around 65 million euros for his transfer in the Summer of 2009, but injury problems are never far away after two years of constant problems with his left knee.

On Saturday evening Mourinho's assistant Aitor Karanka confirmed that Kaka's absence in Valencia was not due to anything serious and could be in contention for Tuesday's game.

"Kaka has not had any type of recurrence of his injury, just a simple muscle strain, we have to be careful when these things happen and take it step by step," he said.

One player who won't be ready in time is Angel Di Maria who has been another revelation in Madrid's strong start to the season.

He suffered a muscle strain in Madrid's 7-1 victory over Osasuna in their last home game and has pencilled in next weekend's derby at home to Atletico Madrid for his return.

Madrid's opponents Dinamo Zagreb will be playing for pride alone on Tuesday night.

With four straight defeats Dinamo lie bottom of Group D after a poor campaign that only got worse after that initial home defeat by Madrid.

Last time out the Croatians suffered a disappointing 4-0 defeat by Ajax in Amsterdam that ended any hopes they had of qualifying.

Centre-back Josip Simunic will almost certainly miss the trip with a calf injury.

The veteran defender played in both of his country's Euro 2012 play-off games against Turkey but is now feeling the affects of those encounters.

Argentinian defender Leandro Cufre stands by to replace him in the Santiago Bernabeu.

Also out is defender Sime Vrsaljko with a torn hamstring.


AFP

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