[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Real Madrid hosts group leading Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday at the Bernabeu in a compelling sequel to their first Champions League meeting two weeks ago, a 2-1 victory in the rain for Dortmund in Germany.
TV: Real Madrid-Borussia Dortmund (Tuesday: Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer Plus, live, 2:45 pm ET/Fox Soccer, delay, 5 pm.)
The defending champions from Germany and Spain square off once again in a critical game that may end up deciding who finishes on top of Group D. Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 win at home two weeks ago saw it jump past Real Madrid into first place halfway through one of the toughest Champions League groups ever.
Group D: Borussia Dortmund 7 points, Real Madrid 6, Ajax 3 and Manchester City has 1 point after its 3-1 loss at Ajax two weeks ago. Man City, which didn’t make it out of group play last year, may already be the group of death’s first victim. Even if City beats Ajax at home on Tuesday, it still faces a trip to Dortmund and a visit from Cristiano Ronaldo and Madrid.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid team did what it usually does after a loss, made other teams pay for it. Real beat Mallorca, 5-0, won at Alcoyano in the Copa Del Rey, 4-1, and on Saturday it beat Zaragoza 4-0. Real is now up to third in La Liga, 5 points behind Atletico Madrid, and 8 back of Barcelona.
Dortmund continues to be up and down in the Bundesliga, Coach Jurgen Klopp wasn’t resting players Saturday but managed only a scoreless tie at home with Stuttgart. Dortmund now trails Bayern Munich by 11 points. But Klopp’s team has a strong argument as perhaps the most impressive team in Champions League play thus far. After Robert Lewandoski’s late goal beat Ajax in Dortmund, BVB dominated the game at Manchester City, which finished tied, and was a deserving winner against Madrid.
What to watch: Madrid wants a statement win. It’s crushing small Spanish teams, but it tied with Barcelona, has yet to play Malaga or Atletico, it lost at Dortmund, and very nearly lost at home to Manchester City. Madrid has only played a few quality teams thus far and it hasn’t dominated them in the fashion we’ve grown accustomed. How will the Madristas react to a tie game late at the Bernabeu? How would Madrid?
Dortmund punished Michael Essien, who was forced to play left back in the first meeting. Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao are still hurt but Alvaro Arbeloa is back. Madrid’s back line is once again a work in progress, while Marco Reus hasn’t gotten any slower, Lewandoski any less lethal or Mario Goetze any easier to stay in front of. Dortmund will get something out of this game by scoring goals, not posting a shutout, and it’s capable of scoring on anyone, anywhere, even a healthy Madrid defense.
What they want: Klopp should be overseeing a confident and loose bunch, a point is the goal, it would keep Dortmund on top, while a win by the visitors would nearly seal first place. Real Madrid is absolutely going to be chasing all three points, as second place is not something the team, or its coach, are ever happy about.
Remaining games: Dortmund is at Ajax in two weeks, then hosting Man City. Madrid is in Manchester, and then will host Ajax in four weeks.