Real Madrid have ground to make up in Group G after defeat last time out, and will be looking to make it another tough evening for Viktoria Plzeň at the Santiago Bernabéu.
• Madrid, who have never previously played Plzeň, are third in the standings on goal difference after two matches with three points, one place and two points above their opponents, who must bounce back after suffering their joint heaviest European defeat on matchday two.
• Julen Lopetegui’s charges went down 1-0 at CSKA Moskva on matchday two – only their fifth defeat in the last 35 European matches – and will be seeking a return to the form that brought a 3-0 win against Roma in Spain in their opening fixture.
• Madrid are holders and 13-time champions. Semi-finalists or better in each of the last eight seasons, this is Real Madrid’s 49th European Cup campaign – more than any other side.
• Third in last season’s Liga, the Spanish giants are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 23rd time – a competition high they share with Barcelona and Porto.
• In 2017/18, Madrid picked up seven points at home but finished second in their group – the second year running they had been runners-up in their section – before going on to beat Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern München in the knockout rounds. Gareth Bale (2) and Karim Benzema scored in the 3-1 final victory against Liverpool in Kyiv.
• The Merengues have won 35 of their last 43 UEFA Champions League home matches, losing just two – 4-3 to Schalke in their 2014/15 round of 16 second leg and against Juventus last season. They still won both ties on aggregate.
• Lopetegui’s side lost 4-2 to Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Tallinn in August, denying the club a third straight triumph in the competition. The defeat in Moscow means Madrid have lost two European fixtures out of three under their new coach.
• This is Madrid’s first game against Czech opponents since a 3-0 home win against Sparta Praha in March 2002, their fourth victory in five home matches against visitors from that country.
• Madrid have won their last three matches against Czech clubs, home and away, and are unbeaten in the last five (D2).
• Matchday two proved a chastening experience for the Czech champions, who went down 5-0 at Roma to equal their largest European defeat. They had looked set to kick off Group G with a home win against CSKA Moskva but were pegged back by an added-time penalty equaliser.
• Plzeň’s 2011/12 and 2013/14 UEFA Champions League seasons both ended in the group stage after starting in the second qualifying round. This is the first time they have automatically qualified for this stage.
• In 2017/18, the Czech club lost to Romania’s FCSB in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (2-2 away, 1-4 home). They went on to finish top of their UEFA Europa League section and beat Partizan in the round of 32, before losing to Sporting CP in the last 16 (0-2 away, 2-1 home aet).
• Plzeň’s 2-0 victory at Hapoel Beer-Sheva on matchday six of last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage is their only win in their last 16 European away fixtures (D6 L9).
• The Czech club have lost all but one of their seven away games in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their sole success was a 1-0 victory at BATE Borisov in November 2011.
• The Czech champions have lost all three of their away games in Spain without scoring, most recently a 1-0 reverse at Villarreal in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage. Home and away, they have won one of their six matches with Liga sides (D1 L4).
Links and trivia
• Plzeň coach Pavel Vrba was in charge of a Czech Republic side including Roman Hubník that suffered a 1-0 defeat by Sergio Ramos and Spain in the UEFA EURO 2016 group stage.
• Toni Kroos appeared in Bayern München’s 5-0 home win and 1-0 away success against Plzeň in the 2013/14 group stage.