Two familiar opponents renew hostilities in Dortmund on Tuesday night, as Real Madrid continue their defence of their UEFA Champions League title against Borussia Dortmund.
It will be a tough test for both sides – Real are by far the most difficult opposition Peter Bosz’s men have faced since he took charge, whilst Los Blancos have been in indifferent form and have a poor record against Dortmund.
Dortmund’s strong record against Spanish giants
These are two sides that have become very familiar with each other, with this being their ninth meeting in the past five years. Surprisingly, Dortmund have a better record in that time, with three wins compared to Real’s two. The Spaniards have also never won at Signal-Iduna-Park.
There were drawn in the same Champions League group last year as well, with both games finishing all square at 2-2. In fact the first of those meetings, in Dortmund, was a year this Wednesday. Madrid led twice, through Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphaël Varane, only for Dortmund to respond both times, thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and André Schürrle. Aubameyang and Marco Reus then scored as they came from 2-0 down after a Karim Benzema double in the return game.
Dortmund ultimately finished top of that group, by virtue of winning all of their remaining games. Real on the other hand picked up three further wins, but were held to a surprise 3-3 in Poland by Legia Warsaw. Of course though, they went all the way to win a third European Cup in four seasons, whilst Dortmund bowed out in the quarter-finals.
The holders started this year’s competition with an expected victory, beating Cypriots APOEL 3-0. Dortmund though lost 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, as Harry Kane’s double put an early blow on their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages from Group H.
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A perfect time to play Los Blancos?
That defeat is the one aberration in Dortmund’s season though, as they have started their Bundesliga campaign like a train on fire. They have won five of their six matches so far, remaining unbeaten, and are two points clear of second-placed TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and a further point ahead of Bayern Munich.
They have also scored 14 goals in their last three matches, and the goal scored by Lars Stindl in Saturday’s 6-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach was the first league goal that Roman Bürki had conceded all season. Aubameyang continued his rich scoring run with a hat-trick, whilst Maximilian Philipp, signed from SC Freiburg in the summer, scored twice.
The form of Zinidene Zidane’s side domestically has been more suspect. A run of one win in four matches sees them languishing in fifth place in La Liga, with Sevilla and Valencia CF above them as well as usual suspects Atlético Madrid and leaders FC Barcelona. The Catalans are seven points better off at this stage.
Despite that, Real did return to winning ways in the league this weekend. Dani Ceballos scored a brace in the 2-1 win at Alavés, although Manu Garíca had equalised in between for the hosts.
Kroos expected to be fit
Dortmund are still without several senior players, namely Marcel Schmelzer, Erik Durm, Raphaël Guerreiro, Sebastian Rode, Reus and Schürrle, but whilst they have coped admirably without all of those domestically, the experience and qualities of Schmelzer and Reus in particular will be missed against the callable of side they are playing on Tuesday. One big of good news is that Julian Weigl made it through 90 minutes against Gladbach, even scoring the sixth and final goal, but he is an unlikely starter here as he builds up his fitness.
Andriy Yarmolenko will almost certainly return on the wings, at the expense of either Philipp or Christian Pulisic. Dan-Axel Zagadou, who has impressed since an uncertain debut in the DFL-Supercup against Bayern, could return at left-back, with former Barcelona man Marc Bartra also expected back alongside Sokratis at the back. There will likely be rotation in midfield, with Nuri Sahin, Shinji Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro candidates to return.
Marcelo, Theo Hernández, Mateo Kovacic and Benzema will be missing for Madrid. Toni Kroos is expected to be available after a small rib problem, and will no doubt start if he is fully fit. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale will also return after being rested against Alavés. Ceballos, despite his two goals in that game, Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio will be the men one would expect to make way.
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Borussia Dortmund: (4-3-3) Bürki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Bartra, Zagadou; Sahin, Götze, Castro; Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Philipp.
Real Madrid: (4-3-3) Navas; Carvajal, Varana, Ramos, Nacho; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Ronaldo, Bale.