Real Madrid will look to maintain their place atop Group H when they travel to the Westfalenstadion to take on Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday
The UEFA Champions League returns with Matchday 2 of the group stage this midweek. In Tuesday’s marquee clash, Real Madrid make the trip to the Signal Iduna Park as Borussia Dortmund host them in a highly anticipated Group H encounter.
The hosts kicked off their group stage campaign in disappointing fashion as they were beaten 3-1 by Tottenham Hotspur. Back home though, Peter Bosz’s men have been nothing short of imperious, unbeaten after their first six Bundesliga games, with their latest result being a 6-1 demolition of Borussia Monchengladbach.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, started their defence of the Champions League title with a 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia that sent them to the top of Group H. In domestic competition though, the visitors have been struggling, with only three wins from their first six games leaving them seven points adrift of Barcelona.
The two sides last met in the group stage of the competition last season, with both encounters ending in 2-2 draws. Ahead of their latest meeting on Tuesday at Signal Iduna Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Peter Bosz has a number of injury concerns to contend with ahead of the visit of Real Madrid on Tuesday. In fact, the Borussia Dortmund boss could be without as many as seven key first-team players on the night due to various fitness problems.
Defence is the worst hit area, with Raphael Guerreiro, Marcel Schmelzer (both ankle) and Erik Durm (hip) sidelined. Additionally, there are doubts over the availability of Marc Bartra as well, who might need a late fitness test to determine if he is fit enough to start.
In the absence of Guerreiro and Schmelzer, Jeremy Toljan is likely to continue as left-back, while Lukasz Piszczek is likely to be the right-back. In midfield, Andre Schurrle (thigh) and Sebastian Rode (pelvis) are short-term absentees, but Marco Reus is unlikely to feature again this year due to a long-term knee injury,
The problems in defence puts the onus on the likes of Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to outscore their opponents, especially with the vulnerabilities at the back exposed by Tottenham two weeks ago.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Burki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan; Kagawa, Sahin, Götze; Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Pulisic
Like his counterpart in the Borussia Dortmund dugout, Zinedine Zidane, too, has to contend with several injury problems to some of his key players, with as many as four first-team players missing out on the trip to the Signal Iduna Park.
The similarities don’t end there with the left side of defence a major area of concern for the Real Madrid boss due to the absences of Marcelo (leg) and Theo Hernandez (dislocated shoulder). With the duo sidelined, the reliable Nacho should continue deputising as the left-back.
Mateo Kovacic (abductor injury) and Karim Benzema (hamstring) are the other two-absentees and the duo are only likely to be available for selection in November. But, Toni Kroos has recovered from a rib injury that forced him to miss the trip to Alaves on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric are expected to feature on Tuesday night, having not featured in Saturday’s match. Dani Ceballos is in contention to get another start after his match-winning performance against the Basque side.
Possible Starting XI (4-1-2-1-2): Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Casemiro; Modric, Ceballos; Isco; Bale, Ronaldo
- Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are squaring off against each other for the fifth time in six seasons.
- Real Madrid have never managed to beat Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park (W3 D3).
- Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his 150th Champions League appearance on Tuesday. The Portuguese superstar is the top scorer in the competition with 107 goals.
- Real Madrid have been prolific in the UEFA Champions League, having found the back of the net in each of their last 37 outings in the competition.
- Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund are high scorers at home, having scored two or more goals in seven of their last ten home games in the Champions League.
Player To Watch
Real Madrid have made an uncharacteristic start to the 2017-18 season, particularly in La Liga where they haven’t looked the part thus far. One player who has been the embodiment of the same is Dani Carvajal.
While the Spaniard has featured in each of the matches for Los Blancos this season, he has looked an increasingly tired figure with every passing week, having little impact in the final third while also being slightly susceptible at the back.
On Tuesday, against the likes of Christian Pulisic, Mario Gotze and the likes, he will need to be on his guard all through the night in order to ensure his side remain unscathed. Additionally, he will need to rediscover his attacking swagger in order to create the chances for Bale and Ronaldo.
Another tired performance though, could spell disaster for Real Madrid, and Zinedine Zidane might just have to give Achraf Hakimi a run in the coming weeks.
Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Real Madrid
The familiar foes meet again in the Champions League in a highly anticipated encounter as Borussia Dortmund go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid in the group stage for the second season running. The two sides are carrying dissimilar forms into the tie.
While Dortmund have been a force under Peter Bosz, Real Madrid have struggled at the start of the season in La Liga. However, the Champions League is a whole another cup of tea, a tournament that often brings out the best from Los Blancos.
The two sides’ talismans, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang look in good touch at this early juncture of the season and the duo should be at the heart of the bulk of the action on Tuesday. The Hard Tackle predicts another stalemate between the two sides – a 2-2 draw.