Tuesday 27th September 2016 Kickoff: 1945hrs
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
Football – Europe – Champions League
It is match day two in this season’s Champions League and the match of the round is undoubtedly in Germany as current champions Real Madrid travel to inform Dortmund. These two are no strangers to each other having faced off plenty of times in recent history but it still remains a game any football fan should be looking forward to as both clubs aim to make it two wins out of two following victories in their opening games of the competition a fortnight ago.
Dortmund produced one of the performances of the round last time out when knocking six past a hapless Legia Warsaw outfit away from home. It was a clinical display from the Germans who have started the season on fire as they return to this level following a year’s absence. Now in the care of Thomas Tuchel who is in his second season in charge, Dortmund qualified for the Champions League by virtue of finishing runners-up to Bayern Munich last term. There is increased expectation that they can go one better than that this time around and although they have already lost one of their opening five league games, the impression they have made in their other games has been such that the rest of the Bundesliga and Europe appreciate just how much of a threat they will be this season. Tuesday represents a good test for them in that they not only face the current champions of Europe but much stronger opposition than they have faced either domestically or in this competition, and whilst they have been brushing aside other teams, Real will, of course, be much sterner.
When you win a Champions League having been in charge for less than six months, it is hard to see how it could get much better or where the improvement could come from, but that’s exactly the challenge that Zinedine Zidane faces with this Real Madrid team. Last May’s victory on penalties over Atletico Madrid gave the club their second Champions League in three seasons and this season sees their bid to become the first team ever to win it in consecutive seasons. Their defence got off to a shaky start against Sporting Lisbon two weeks ago as they conceded early in the second half and looked for a while as though they would lose their first home group game since 2009. That was until Cristiano Ronaldo scored a spectacular free kick against his former club, quickly followed by Alvaro Morata’s injury time winner. It was another sign of the desire that Zidane has instilled into this team and that was every bit as important as their ability last season – perhaps more so. Despite becoming European Champions again, there’s no doubt that it was not a vintage campaign from Real and they rode their luck at times, not least in the final itself. However, the record books show that they came out on top and I’m sure the manager and all concerned would bite your hand off for a repeat.
As has become customary in Dortmund these days, the summer witnessed yet more star players exit for pastures new. Mats Hummels left to join rivals Bayern whilst Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan moved to the English Premier League with Manchester City and Manchester United, respectively. The club sought to invest those transfer fees by bringing in a mixture of experience and youth with Andre Schurrle and Sebastian Rode are well versed at this level but the additions of Ousame Dembele and Emre Mor are further investment in the future. The most notable signing, however, was the return of Mario Gotze from Bayern. Gotze made the original switch back in 2013 following an incredibly successful spell under Jurgen Klopp but failed to settle in Munich and he could well be one of those players who suits a certain type of club. Tuchel will certainly be hoping that’s the case as his contribution to Dortmund’s two title wins and reaching the Champions League final was massive.
Real have stuttered in La Liga of late having drawn their last two games against Villareal and Las Palmas. Those dropped points followed four consecutive wins in the league and although they remain top of the table at this point, Zidane will be slightly concerned at this team’s lack of a killer edge when on top in games. The match against Sporting was further evidence that Real are not quite at the top of their game at this moment and will have to improve if they are to be successful either in this competition or domestically. Their cause has not been helped with the squad being hit by a spate of injuries at the beginning of the campaign but now that the likes of Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are returning to fitness, the hope is they are able to return to winning ways.
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid Betting Tips
I noted that these two teams have some recent history together and that includes an epic semi final back in 2012/13. Dortmund ran out 4-3 winners on aggregate on that occasion before losing out to Bayern at Wembley. Those ties were part of meetings in three consecutive seasons between the clubs, having been drawn against each other at the group stage either side of that. Due to Dortmund not participating last season, it means they will have played against each other in the Champions League every time for the last four campaigns. Interestingly enough, within that time, no team has ever won away from home against the other and I think that’s a trend likely to continue on Tuesday.
Dortmund have been irresistible in attack so far this season, scoring 20 goals in their last four games alone. Madrid are still to really get going despite a couple of good results and we know there remains a fragility about their defence, particularly with the protector Casemiro ruled out with injury. Their record in Germany against Dortmund is very poor as well, conceding eight goals in three visits and managing just the two goals. Both clubs are widely expected to progress to the knockout stages but the value of finishing top should not be underestimated, and as Dortmund are at home this week, their need is just that bit greater, combined with being in better form at present.
Borussia Dortmund 6/4 @ Betfred