Fans of international football can watch a potential UEFA Champions League upset in the making live online when a shorthanded Real Madrid travels to Sweden to face Malmo FF, the reigning and 21-time Swedish top flight champions. But going into a sold-out Swedbank Stadium without three of their star players — on a pitch that has reportedly been reduced in size to give the home side an advantage — Real Madrid may find themselves facing an unexpected challenge.
Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, and James Rodriguez have all stayed behind in Madrid to work on recovering from injuries, leaving the task of defeating the Allsvenskan champs more or less single-handedly to Cristiano Ronaldo.
We are flying to Sweden, where we will face Malmö in our second Champions League match of the season. #RMUCL pic.twitter.com/yFhitNHQs0But the Portuguese superstar has struggled so far this season, at least in La Liga, finding the back of the net in just one out of five league matches so far this season — though in that one match against Espanyol on September 13, he fired home not just one, not two, but five goals.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) September 29, 2015
Real Madrid Manager Rafa Benitez will be relying on Ronaldo Wednesday as he prepares his team for the coming weekend's derby against crosstown rivals Atletico.
"On the issue of injuries I am always cautious," Benitez last week. "There can always be a small problem which changes things. Next week they will join with teammates, we will see then how they are when they turn sharply or sprint. If they are good, it depends on each individual, but some could be back for Wednesday and others for Atletico."
To find out how to watch the Real Madrid vs. Malmo FF UEFA Champions League Group A match live online, see the streaming info in the final paragraph of this article. Kickoff is set for 8:45 p.m. Central European Summer Time at 24,000-seat Swedbank Stadium in Malmo, Sweden, on Wednesday, September 30.
For viewers in the United States, the equivalent start times are 2:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 11:45 a.m. Pacific.
With Madrid basing much of their attack on their width and strength down the sidelines, Malmo has reportedly shaved a meter off each side of the Swedbank Stadium pitch in preparation for the match, to take away some of the visitors' advantage in those wide areas.
Wednesday's match will mark the first time Malmo and Real Madrid have ever faced each other on the pitch — another advantage for the underdog home team, at least in the mind of its manager, Age Hareide.
"They know nothing about us," Hareide said this week. "And they're only human."
Malmo lost 2-0 to Paris St. Germain its Champions League opener and, indeed, have won only one time in seven UEFA Champions League matches.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, are playing in their 19th straight Champions League — the longest streak of any team in Europe — and have never failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament.
Including the previous European Championship, before the competition became the Champions League, Real Madrid have won the Cup a record 10 times.
Will Real Mardid continue to ride the top of the 2015-2016 UEFA Champions League Group A with an away win over the Swedish champions? Or will Malmo FF pull off a stunning upset, dealing Los Blancos a setback that could leave them in a battle to get out of the group stage? To find out, watch the Real Madrid vs. Malmo FF UEFA Champions League Week Two match live online from Malmo, Sweden, by going to Fox Sports Go at this link, or paying for a subscription to Fox Soccer2Go, available at this link. To watch the game on mobile devices, download the Fox Sports Go app.
[Images: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Denis Doyle / Steve Welsh / Getty Images]