On Tuesday night, Borussia Dortmund will face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. We interviewed Nils Kern, editor-in-chief of REAL TOTAL – the leading magazine about Real Madrid in German-speaking countries – ahead of the enticing clash.
First off, what were the initial reactions in Madrid after drawing Borussia Dortmund yet again in the Champions League group?
Well, a lot of fans were keen to remember the last duels with to raise their anticipation for another match-up. Apart from that, it was funny to hear from Joachim Watzke, that Florentino Pérez, Madrid’s president, told him before the draw, that they will meet again at this group stage. In Madrid, everyone knows, that BVB are a great club with an exciting development in the last years, which Álvaro Morata appreciated in an interview, too.
It is Zinédine Zidane’s second season as a manager. How happy are you with him so far and what is notable about his coaching style/philosophy?
Me, and all of us at REAL TOTAL, are very happy with him. Not just because he already was a legend at the club, he seems to be a great manager, too. A manager, that can form a team, and family out of different stars and players. Real Madrid seems finally to have found continuity.
After the CL was won in 2014, there were a lot of changes, but not after this year‘s success. It is Zidane, who formed an „equipazo“ out of big stars, like Ronaldo and Bale, young players, like Asensio and Varane, and youth products, like Vázquez and Carvajal.
So everyone in Madridismo is quite happy, although there were no big tactical changes in comparison to Madrid under Ancelotti or Benítez. It’s a 4-3-3 with rotating „BBC“ in front and a (thanks to Zidane) defending „BBC“, too. Moreover, he found the ideal defensive midfielder in Casemiro, so that Kroos and Modrić can do more important things. Casemiro was a key for Madrid’s big finish last season – and flying to Dortmund without the Brasilian is like leaving the house with your phone battery at 30%…
Real Madrid sit top of Primera División, but dropped points twice in a row against Villarreal and Las Palmas – cause for concern ahead of the Tuesday?
After six wins out of the first six official matches, where Madrid even showed some weaknesses, but always showed team spirit, as they fought themselves back, it was „time“ to drop some points. In those two matches Madrid had a lot of scoring opportunities, although some players were not at 100 % (like Benzema).
We at REAL TOTAL and everybody else in Madridismo hope, that the third „yellow“ enemy in a row will not cause again trouble to the „Blancos“. And yes: BVB already might have been in their minds, because Zidane tried to rotate – e.g. breaks for Kroos and Modrić, who are always more difficult to replace than „BBC“.
Strengths and weaknesses ahead of the match: What strengths do Borussia Dortmund have to fear and on which weaknesses could they capitalise?
As I already said, Real Madrid have proven that they can win (and turn around) even those matches, in which they don’t play well. That’s a new gained quality compared to recent seasons, and in hindsight the lack of comeback-qualities might have lost some Liga titles. Now, the team knows how to fight (even in foreign stadiums); and I can’t see another team at the moment, that is as polyvalent: Be it counter-attacks, set-pieces, shots from distance or quick combination play – Real Madrid have many ways to score. And everyone, too – their 20 goals were scored by 11 different players!
Weaknesses? Well, the tank in the midfield will be missed and needs to be replaced: Carlos Casemiro is injured! He does a lot of „dirty work“, and Dortmund might profit from the absentee, who saved Madrid in quarter-finals against BVB in 2014 (0:2). Dortmund needs to unnerve Ronaldo and Bale, but always, always have to be patient for the other, dangerous guys.
How do you expect Zidane to set his team up at the Westfalenstadion?
It would be very surprising if Navas gets his comeback, so Casilla might stay in the goal like in each of the eight matches this season. With Marcelo injured, it might come to this back four: Carvajal – Varane -Ramos – Danilo. Without Casemiro it might be Kovačić to play next to Modrić and Kroos, not James or Isco, so a more defensive variation. And upfront? Guess what: BBC – Bale, Benzema and Cristiano!
Scoreline prediction: 2:2
Thanks again to Nils Kern! You can follow him on Twitter @Nilskern17.