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Champions League recap: Real Madrid under pressure

The 13-time winners are in the hunt but need something special in their last-16 decider.

Watch every Real Madrid Champions League goal so far this season
Watch every Real Madrid Champions League goal so far this season

Results have fluctuated over the course of the campaign, but the 13-time winners are still in the hunt.

Rule changes for this season

Season so far

Highlights: Real Madrid 6-0 Galatasaray
Highlights: Real Madrid 6-0 Galatasaray

Form guide: W3 D2 L2 F15 A10
Top scorer: Karim Benzema, Rodrygo (4)

Their campaign in ten words: Many ups and downs, but Madrid live for this competition

Group A runners-up
Paris 3-0 Real Madrid (Di María 14 33, Meunier 90+1)
Real Madrid 2-2 Club Brugge (Ramos 55, Casemiro 85; Bonaventure 9 39)
Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid (Kroos 18)
Real Madrid 6-0 Galatasaray (Rodrygo 4 7 90+2, Ramos 14pen, Benzema 45 81)
Real Madrid 2-2 Paris (Benzema 17 79; Mbappé 81, Sarabia 83)
Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid (Vanaken 55; Rodrygo 53, Vinícius Júnior 64, Modrić 90+1)

Round of 16

First leg (26 February): Real Madrid 1-2 Man. City (Isco 60; Jesus 78, De Bruyne 83pen)

After taking the lead and looking commanding, the 13-time champions allowed their focus to slip, leaving them with it all to do in the return leg – without their suspended captain Sergio Ramos.

Expert view: Graham Hunter, UEFA.com Real Madrid reporter

The bookends of defeats in their opening match in Paris, then at home in the first leg against City, distract a little from some interesting football played by Zinédine Zidane's side. Indeed, a wonderful 80 minutes in the return against Paris before conceding two late goals, a 'perfect' hat-trick from young Rodrygo in the corrective handed out to Galatasaray, and deep stubbornness in the away victory against Club Brugge, all stood out as positives for the 2017/18 champions. They'll be thrilled as well to face the remainder of their European season with both Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio back from injury.

Who’s in charge?

After winning the UEFA Champions League three times in his previous spell as Real Madrid coach (2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18), Zinédine Zidane will look to make it four this season, having returned to the club in March 2019. The 48-year-old had already carved out a place in the competition's history with a stunning goal against Leverkusen in Madrid's 2002 final win.

Key quote: "The players are the key. Without weathering pressure, you cannot achieve anything significant, and what I have to do is ensure the players stay calm and patient when things are tough. The players believe in what we are doing."

Tactical approach

Zinédine Zidane is in his third full season as Madrid boss
Zinédine Zidane is in his third full season as Madrid boss©AFP/Getty Images

Zidane's side deploy a 4-3-3 formation in possession which quickly morphs into a compact 4-4-2 when his players lose the ball. This Madrid team are lightning-quick on the counter, the likes of Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos ensuring swift transitions from defence to attack.

Star player: Karim Benzema

There was a feeling that Madrid's goals might dry up following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure for Juventus, but the Frenchman has flourished outside CR7's shadow in the past two seasons, and is getting the recognition his 300+ senior career goals deserve.