Having narrowly qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League for the 4th consecutive year, Real Madrid will be heaving a sigh of relief after putting forward an absolutely dismal performance on Tuesday.
Borussia Dortmund entered the pitch as the obvious under-dogs knowing very well that only a miracle would see them go past Real Madrid after having lost 3-0 in the first leg. And that miracle was nearly on its way after an inspired Borussia Dortmund, led by Marco Reus and Lewandowski, put two past a helpless Iker Casillas within the first 40 minutes of the game.
Having survived an early scare of a penalty, Dortmund were a force to reckon with. Sharp, comfortable and fast, Dortmund played the superior football forcing Real Madrid to retreat into a shell. Borussia Dortmund squeezed Real Madrid into nervy positions and forced them to make silly errors due to their fast pressing when without possession. They were aware that Ancelotti likes his players to keep possession at the back and hence sharply targeted Xabi Alonso and Illarramendi, the nexus of the team, which almost got them the desired result.
A misplaced header from Pepe and an intelligent reading of the game by Marco Reus allowed the German a golden opportunity who then kept his nerve and calmly slotted the ball home to give Dortmund the lead early on in the game.
Lewandowski’s presence in the team made a great impact and it would be interesting to speculate how the first tie might have shaped up had the striker not been suspended. He kept Segio Ramos and Pepe on their toes throughout the game and took every opportunity of the mistakes made at the back by Pepe, Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso. One such sprayed pass from Illarramendi enabled Dortmund to counter-attack and Lewandowski’s shot was saved by the bar only for Reus to rebound it into the net. Two goals up by the 37th minute, Dortmund will look back at the game knowing very well that the game was theirs for the taking. Mkhitaryan should have made it 3-0 for Dortmund but his shot was saved by the post.
It was clear that they were looking to attack Madrid from the left flank which was often left severely exposed due to Carvajal’s ambitious and a little bit adventurous nature of play and the fact that Gareth Bale was playing up field looking to pick up scraps and turn them into that decisive goal. Weidenfeller and Hummels once again put their best foot forward and made sure that Real did not get that one goal they needed to put the tie beyond repair.
Marco Reus -9/10: He led from the front and scored twice to make Real Madrid very jittery. Clinical and fast, his partnership with Lewandowski was one that led Dortmund to believe.
Lewandowski- 8/10: A shame that he missed the first leg, Lewandowski almost made up for it by adding to Dortmund’s tally in the second leg but was denied by the cross bar.
Weidenfeller -9/10: Another brilliant performance from the Captain. He stood firm and stopped everything that came his way. Including a decisive penalty.
Real Madrid on the other hand were a pale shadow of the side that so convincingly battered Dortmund in the first leg of the Champions League. Though they were without Commander Ronaldo, Real just failed to keep up with the pace that Klopp’s men set for the game right from the first minute.
Though Ancelotti’s possession style football, one that involves a lot of intricate passing in the defence and the midfield, was well appreciated this season, it all crumbled down in this crucial fixture in front of a menacing Dortmund side. The usually composed Alonos and Illarramendi sprayed passes and often gifted the ball to their German opposition while the defenders, Pepe and Ramos, who have been brilliant this season, collectively had a bad game as they gave Dortmund a chance to crawl back into the game.
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the game was that Real Madrid, having missed that early penalty, were visibly shaken and nervous all through out the game. Having missed a golden opportunity to finish the tie and then conceding a disastrous goal, Ancelotti’s men were caught like a deer in the headlights. They were so desperate to defend that they sat back near their own box, allowing Dortmund to completely control the game in the midfield. Hummels found himself easily taking the ball right into the opponent’s half without any fear of being clamped down by any player in the white.
A disastrous performance, the only thing that saved Real Madrid an embarrassing exit was Iker Casillas and the bar-post, both of which stood firm to deny Dortmund plenty of opportunities.
Iker Casillas-7/10: Playing the Captain’s part, Casillas did well to deny Dortmund their third goal. He stood firm and pulled off quite a few saves from close range.
Isco-7/10: His introduction in the second half had a calming effect on Real Madrid. Not one to lose the ball, he was good at keeping possession and passing the ball around.
Coentrao- 7/10: The Portuguese once again stepped up his game in the heat of the battle and showed exactly why Mourinho held him so highly at Bernabeu. A strong defender, Coentrao was equally effective in taking the ball upfield and did earn Madrid that crucial penalty.