On Wednesday night, Borussia Dortmund will face Real Madrid in the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabéu to determine the winner of Group F.
A draw will suffice for the Black and Yellows to top the group as they are two points clear of Los Blancos. Of course, players and coaches of either team ensured that they will play to win, but especially for the hosts a draw seems appealing as they would avoid Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Arsenal – probably the teams that pose the biggest threat for the Spanish capital club, who cannot face teams from the same country in the round of 16.
Meanwhile, the Ruhr side only have to fear Manchester City if they are to emerge as winners of Group F, although none of the possible matchups will be exactly easy. So will both teams settle for a draw?
Teams Dortmund could face as winners of Group F:
Teams Dortmund could face as second in Group F:
Teams Real Madrid could face as winners of Group F:
Teams Real Madrid could face as second in Group F:
*depending on outcome in Group G
**depending on outcome in Group H
Thomas Tuchel will have to make do without Mario Götze, Shinji Kagawa, Raphael Guerreiro, Nuri Sahin, Sven Bender, Neven Subotic and Roman Bürki, while Marco Reus is doubtful due to a cold.
Tuchel said on Tuesday that he will decide on midfielder’s inclusion to the squad on Wednesday noon. Either way the 27-year-old is unlikely to start in BVB’s lineup on Wednesday after playing 77 minutes on the weekend. His manager will be keen to have Reus fit and healthy against 1. FC Köln on the weekend.
The absence of Götze, who stayed in Dortmund due to knee problems, will be felt. The 24-year-old has been an integral part in BVB’s 1-0 win over Bayern Munich a fortnight ago, proving that he his experience and intelligence are of much value in Dortmund’s high-profile matches.
The same could be said about “problem solver” Guerrerio, as Tuchel described the Euro 2016 winner. “It’s extraordinarily difficult to replace him,” the 43-year-old said on Tuesday, once again bemoaning the absence of the link-up player.
“He was supposed to return to team training on Sunday. But we didn’t want to risk another setback. He is very, very sad about that – and so are we,” Tuchel said per the club’s official website.
For Madrid, Gareth Bale is the only injury concern as Toni Kroos, Álvaro Morata and Danilo return to the squad just in time for the match. They replace Mariano Díaz, Nacho Fernández and Mateo Kovačić, with the latter receiving a break according to REAL TOTAL.
Formation and predicted line-up
Guessing the way BVB line up in a match is near to impossible with Tuchel at the helm. Nonetheless, let’s give it a try. The Dortmund manager revealed some of his thoughts approaching the match. He said: “I don’t want to give Real Madrid control of the midfield. That would put us under too much pressure for too long. We need to find a way of attacking quickly, defending aggressively and playing our own game.”
He said: “I don’t want to give Real Madrid control of the midfield. That would put us under too much pressure for too long. We need to find a way of attacking quickly, defending aggressively and playing our own game.”
Going by those words, the 43-year-old will want to make sure to close down Luca Modric and Toni Kroos, while having pace upfront. With Ousmane Dembele like to receive a well-earned break, it might be André Schürrle and Christian Pulisic to form a front three in possession, while Schmelzer or Piszczek roam forward in support.
Without the ball, BVB’s 3-4-3 system could turn into a 5-3-2 with Schürrle dropping back next to Julian Weigl and Gonzalo Castro, who play in front of the back-five that also started against Bayern Munich.
Either way, Zinedine Zidane is expected to choose a more active approach to Madrid’s counter-attacking setup from the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture. Los Blancos should put Dortmund under more pressure, which should be part of Tuchel’s equation when he draws his plan on the flip chart.
Predicted XI (5-3-2/3-4-3): Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra, Schmelzer; Castro, Weigl, Schürrle; Pulisic, Aubameyang