Borussia Dortmund meet mighty Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening at Westfalenstadion. Lack of familiarity isn’t a huge issue given how many times these two sides have met over the last few years, but we still caught up with Real fan Clemens to get the scoop on Dortmund’s opponents in this important fixture.
Many analysts said before the season Real were going to be even stronger, but the start to the campaign hasn’t been great in terms of results. Are there bigger, underlying issues or are the draws versus Valencia and Levante and the loss to Betis “just” flukes?
I think both is true. On the one hand, I do think that this Real Madrid team has some issues, but those aren’t new, rather they exist since Zinedine Zidane took over. The results were often better than the underlying performances. In the three games you’ve mentioned, the opposite was the case; they created a lot of chances (roughly 8.5 expected Goals), but only scored three goals. At the same time, they conceded four goals from only a few low-quality chances (2.42 xG).
What, if anything, has changed for Real in comparison to the previous meetings with Dortmund, especially during the last UCL campaign?
Real Madrid itself hasn’t changed a lot since then. I think the biggest differences to the two games from last season are due to injuries, especially to Karim Benzema, who is in my opinion the most important part of their offense. There are three different ways Zidane could react to his absence: Replacing the Frenchman with the young Borja Mayoral, playing with Ronaldo as central striker together with Bale and Asensio, or playing in a 4-3-1-2 with Isco behind Ronaldo and Bale. The third option is the most likely one in my opinion, although I personally don’t think it’s the best.
BVB have historically done very well against Real, particularly at home. Do you have an explanation for that from a Madrid perspective?
Besides that Dortmund is a great team that plays in a huge stadium filled with one of the best fanbases in Europe? No, not really.
Without Marcelo and Theo Hernandez, Real don’t have a natural left-back. How big is that problem for them and who’s going to actually play on Tuesday?
With the two left-backs injured, Nacho Fernandez will take their position. It’s not the first time he will play in this spot, as most Real Madrid coaches use him as a Swiss army knife and play him all over the back-four. He usually is defensively solid, when Real has the ball he plays more reserved than Marcelo or Theo, therefore they could lack width in possession, especially if they’re playing with a diamond in midfield.
As I expect Dortmund to have a lot of possession and Madrid to sit pretty deep and to be quite passive against the ball — looking for counterattacks– I don’t think it will be a huge problem for them on Tuesday (even though having the best left-back on the pitch is never a disadvantage).
My prediction is a 2-2 draw, just like in the two encounters in last season.
Thanks to Clemens for his insights.
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