Atletico Madrid will look to get back to winning ways, when they host German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Atletico Madrid will welcome Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund to the Wanda Metropolitano for their fourth Group A encounter of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League season.
Atletico were battered 4-0 by the German outfit last time the two teams met at the Signal Iduna Park a fortnight ago, which was their worst ever defeat under manager Diego Simeone. They managed to get back on track with wins against Real Sociedad in the La Liga and Sant Andreu in the Copa Del Rey, but were held to a 1-1 draw by a lowly Leganes outfit this past weekend.
Currently occupying second spot in Group A, with six points from three games, Los Colchoneros will be hoping to avenge the drubbing that was handed out to them last time out with a strong performance at home on Tuesday night.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, are flying high domestically as well as in the continental competition. Under new manager Lucien Favre, Die Schwarzgelben are sitting atop the Bundesliga standings and are front-runners in Group A of the Champions League as well, having won all of their three games so far, without conceding even once.
Following their thrashing of Atleti, Dortmund are unbeaten in their subsequent three fixtures (W2, D1) and come into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg at the weekend. And a victory against the Spanish capital club on Tuesday will ensure that they finish at the top of their group.
Team News & Tactics
Los Rojiblancos have been hit with a spate of injuries heading into the midweek encounter. Club captain Diego Godin is ruled out with an illness, while fellow defender Stefan Savic is also set to miss out due to an injury he picked up at the weekend. Star striker Diego Costa is also absent with an adductor injury, while Thomas Lemar and Koke are ruled out as well.
Atletico are expected to line up in their usual 4-4-2 setup, with Jan Oblak, who is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the business, continuing under the sticks.
Veteran defender Juanfran could come into the team at right-back to add some experience to the backline, with Filipe Luis expected to slot in at left-back. Jose Maria Gimenez, who only recently recovered from an injury himself, will pair up with Lucas Hernandez at the heart of the Atletico Madrid defence in the absence of Godin and Savic.
Summer signing Rodri provides the solidity starting in the middle of the park for Atleti and he is likely to be paired up with fellow Spaniard Saul Niguez, who will be in charge of offering the drive and the creativity going forward. Threat from the wide areas is likely to come from Angel Correa on the right side and Vitolo on the left.
Star attacker Antoine Griezmann, who scored in the draw against Leganes, is a certainty at the top and is likely to be paired up with Portuguese winger Gelson Martins, who started alongside the Frenchman on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Gimenez, Hernandez, Luis; Correa, Rodri, Saul, Vitolo; Griezmann, Martins
Dortmund have been boosted by the return of Lukasz Piszczek and Mario Gotze ahead of their trip to Spain. However, they will have to continue to make do without the services of seasoned campaigners Shinji Kagawa and Marcel Schmelzer. Abdou Diallo is also a major doubt for the Bundesliga leaders.
Favre will set his team out in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday night. Roman Burki, who has been in fine form this term, is a guaranteed starter under the crossbar for the visitors.
Despite Piszczek’s return, on-loan Real Madrid full-back Achraf Hakimi is expected to start at right-back after he got three assists in the reverse fixture, while Raphael Guerreiro, who scored twice against Atletico is in line to start at left-back. The fit-again Manuel Akanji will likely start in the centre of the backline alongside the impressive Dan-Axel Zagadou.
Axel Witsel has been a stellar signing for Dortmund and has quickly gone on to establish himself as a key member of the team. Having scored against the Spanish outfit last time out, he is a definite starter in the middle of the park. Partnering him in the second pivot position should be Thomas Delaney, who returned from injury this weekend.
Christian Pulisic is in line to start on the right flank for the Germans, having been left out of the starting XI against Wolfsburg. English wonderkid Jadon Sancho is expected to move out to the left side of the attack, with captain Marco Reus set to slot in as the No. 10. Paco Alcacer, who is back from injury, should spearhead the attack on his return to Spain.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Akanji, Zagadou, Guerreiro; Witsel, Delaney; Pulisic, Reus, Sancho; Alcacer
- Borussia Dortmund will be playing their 250th European match when they take the field on Tuesday night against Atletico Madrid.
- Atletico Madrid have not lost any of their last eight home games against German clubs (W6 D2). The last home defeat to a German opposition came in the 1996-97 group phase − coincidentally, a 1-0 loss at the hands of BVB.
- The victory in 1996-97 remains Borussia Dortmund’s only win in their previous 14 visits to Spain. There have been five draws and eight defeats during the period.
- If Antoine Griezmann plays on Tuesday, it will be his 50th game in the UEFA Champions League. 44 out of those 50 games will have come for Atletico Madrid.
- Dortmund are one of only three teams that have maintained their 100% record in this season’s Champions League, along with Barcelona and Juventus. The Germans and Juve are the only two teams yet to concede a single goal in the competition.
Player to Watch
The 29-year-old seems to have left his injury-troubled past behind him and is in the form of his life currently for Borussia Dortmund. So far in the 2018-19 campaign, Reus has been directly involved in 16 goals for the German outfit (9 goals, 7 assists) in just 15 appearances across all competitions and was on the scoresheet in the narrow win over Wolfsburg at the weekend.
Donning the captain’s armband, the German international has led the team by example. While he has been producing the goods in the final third of the pitch, Reus has also impressed with his all-round work rate off the ball as well, setting an example for his teammates. Expect him to pose a serious threat to the Atletico Madrid backline on Tuesday night.
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Atletico Madrid have the reputation of being one of the most impregnable defensive outfits across Europe. However, Los Rojiblancos were torn apart for fun by Dortmund the last time these two teams met, while they looked vulnerable in the draw against Leganes this past weekend as well.
Their attack hasn’t been firing on all cylinders either – Antoine Griezmann is Atleti’s top scorer this term across all competitions, with just five goals to his name in 15 appearances. Without captain Diego Godin and the mercurial Diego Costa, Simeone’s men will be under pressure against a Dortmund side that has been unstoppable at times this season.
With Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer all in sublime form, Favre’s men make for a dangerous attacking contingent and the fact that they are yet to concede a single goal in Europe highlights that they have been performing exceptionally well in defence too. As a result, we at The Hard Tackle expect them to get another victory over Atleti and confirm their status as Group A winners.