Real Madrid host Borussia Dortmund in the last game of their respective group stage fixtures in Group D of the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid have been rocked by a very disappointing start to their domestic campaign and an equally shocking defeat to Tottenham in the Champions League, which saw the defending European champions surrender the top spot in Group D. However, they have managed to lock down a place for themselves in the knockout phase of the competition.
Borussia Dortmund are officially out of reckoning for a place in the knockouts and are now fighting for a spot in the UEFA Europa League. And the Yellow Brigade are in danger of losing out on that as well if results do not go their way. A win on the other hand, will secure them a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League at least.
Ahead of the very interesting tie, we take a closer look at the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Gareth Bale is the only casualty for Zinedine Zidane ahead of the tie, which even though inconsequential, might be important in order to build momentum and galvanize their season. The manager has stressed on his team’s willingness to give a good performance on Wednesday.
There could be a case to give Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema some rest but their record against Borussia Dortmund could see the duo start on Wednesday. Mateo Kovacic has not been handed much of an opportunity to showcase his skills this season but could be afforded a rare start against Borussia Dortmund.
Nacho has been in fine form for Real in the Champions League and the same could be one of the factors for the Spaniard’s selection in the starting lineup while there could be a swap in goalkeeping duties.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Kovacic, Casemiro, Ceballos; Ronaldo, Benzema, Asensio
Dortmund are in a sea of trouble, both in terms of results and injury issues. The early onset of the Peter Bosz era that looked so promising is starting to unfold really quickly and in a rather ugly manner.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seems to be the only player in form, with 17 goals in 19 games for Dortmund so far and is likely to slot straight into the starting lineup after missing the weekend tie against Bayer Leverkusen due to suspension.
Maximilian Philipp and Gonzalo Castro are the latest additions to the growing injury list. Adding to the injury issues is Jeremy Toljan’s suspension, which means an almost-confirmed start for Raphael Guerreiro on the left side of the defence.
Mahmoud Dahoud has been rather quiet after coming over from local rivals Gladbach in the summer and it would be interesting to see if this is the match which sees the midfielder come into his own.
Peter Bosz is unlikely to compromise on his playing style despite the dip in form and results. We are likely to see a very open-ended match which could end up becoming another goal glut.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Burki; Bartra, Sokratis, Toprak, Guerreiro; Dahoud, Weigl, Kagawa; Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Pulisic
1. Real Madrid have never lost to a German opposition at Santiago Bernabeu.
2. Both teams have scored in each of the last 3 encounters, with a total of atleast 4 goals in each of those fixtures.
3. Real Madrid have failed to score in just one of the last 10 meetings against Borussia Dortmund, that too in the away leg of the knockout phase of the 2013-14 Champions League.
4. Ronaldo and Benzema have combined to score 9 goals in the last 9 games against Borussia Dortmund.
5. Dortmund are on a very poor streak in the Champions League, having been unable to register a win in their last 7 games in the competition.
Player to Watch
A lot has been speculated. Chelsea and Liverpool have been touted as potential destinations come January. But, the focus will be on Dortmund’s ability to get themselves a spot in Europa League’s knockout phase and for that, they need a win at Bernabeu – a first by a German opposition.
For the win, the Bundesliga giants would need their usual hero to step up. Aubameyang has delivered so far this season whenever called upon and Dortmund’s Europa League fate will be down to his ability to trouble the Real Madrid’s goal.
Real Madrid 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid have struggled a lot this season. But, so have Dortmund. A match between two struggling giants, this could be a goal glut as always. And judging by Dortmund’s necessity to get a result, we might just a first at Bernabeu – a German victory.
We expect a tight affair and while a draw would have been the most ideal result, we are going with Dortmund to edge the hosts on Wednesday, purely based on their desire and need to secure a result.