Champions League Preview: Real Madrid F.C V. Borussia Dortmund
Tournament: Champions League Group: F – Round 2
Location: Signal Iduna Park
Match Date: Tue, Sept 27, 2:45 PM
TV Listing: FS1, or FS2
Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund kick off this week's Champions League action Tuesday afternoon with a clash at the raucous Signal Iduna Park in Germany. This matchup is not only the most intriguing Champions League match of the week, but it pits Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane head to head against Dortmund boss, Thomas Tuchel, for the first time.
In their previous five meetings, the two European heavyweights have each won two games apiece and have drawn once. Their last encounter, however, saw Dortmund win 2-0. However, in 2013, Madrid was put to the sword by striker Robert Lewandowski who, in that Champions League semifinal, scored four goals to lead Dortmund to victory.
Of course, both the German and Spanish squads have gone through a large degree of transformation since then. Most notably, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has replaced Lewandowski as striker for Dortmund, but they have also lost the calming presence of Mats Hummels on defense. Madrid, on the other hand, has changed twelve players from that original 19-man squad, including adding superstar Gareth Bale.
Recently, Dortmund has started to look like the side that lost the Champions League final in 2013, a squad widely considered to be Dortmund’s best ever team. This is evident by looking at their last four fixtures in which Dortmund has won four, scored twenty, and conceded twice. That is scintillating form. Dortmund is operating with a new fast-paced tempo that can often overwhelm teams with pace. That means Madrid will have their hands full and will have to be sharp in order to contain the likes of Aubameyang, Marco Reus, and Mario Götze for ninety minutes. When you add the support of the “Yellow Wall”, the largest freestanding grandstand in Europe holding 25,000 people, and the environment of the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund poses a very difficult test for Zidane’s talented squad.
However, this is Real Madrid we are talking about. No matter the challenge, the reigning Champions League champs will always be favorites. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who needs no introduction, Gareth Bale, whose power, agility, and pace causes problems for all defenders, and a midfield trio of Luca Modric, Toni Kroos, and James Rodriguez, Madrid will be difficult to beat on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, this will be an intriguing tactical matchup between two European giants, and both sides will have to play at their best in order to take a commanding control of their group. Since both clubs boast quality rosters and brilliant coaches, I predict they will share the points on Tuesday.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2, Borussia Dortmund 2