What: Champions League Semi-final (First Leg)
Who: Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid
When: Wednesday 24th April, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany
High On Confidence
The only team that were happy after the Champions League semi-final draw were Borussia Dortmund. Having taken four points from their adversaries Real Madrid back when the two met in the group stages earlier this term, Jurgen Klopp’s side have the mental advantage over Jose Mourinho’s men, who tend to find it hard against German opposition, particularly away from the Santiago Bernabeu. With the second leg taking place in Spain, last season’s Bundesliga runners-up can go a long way towards reaching the final should they put this one to rest at the Westfalenstadion.
Having the best home record of all remaining teams in the Champions League, winning all of their five home games so far, defender Mats Hummels nonetheless declared that his side might find it hard against Los Blancos should they fail to impose their rhythm on the game.
“Ball possession will be a key factor against Real Madrid. I remember our match at Real during the group stage. In the second half we did not have the ball for longer than ten seconds before we lost it again, and then it is really difficult against them", Hummels said.
Dortmund will be buoyed by the fact that their opponents have only prevailed once in their 24 visits to Germany. The home side employ a similar 4-2-3-1 system to the one adopted by the Spanish champions, however practically no team match Real Madrid on the counter-attack. Borussia Dortmund’s defence will have to stay alert.
Jose Mourinho might have preferred to meet Barcelona in the semi-final, but luck has ditched Real Madrid at this stage. Having guided the side to their third consecutive semi-final, a lot of pressure hangs on the shoulders of the Portuguese tactician, given the club’s dreams of a tenth Champions League accolade and the constant speculation surrounding his short term future at the club.
The Santiago Bernabeu faithful showed support for the former FC Porto man when his name was announced via the PA against Real Betis at the weekend, but even that might not be sufficient to persuade the man to stay in Spain next season.
A master of two-legged ties, Mourinho will have to pull off an impressive performance against Dortmund to pursue a third Champions League medal.
Real Madrid know what is at stake, especially as German sides have been their bogey teams in recent years. Dortmund have already managed to slay a Spanish side as they surpassed Malaga in the previous round, but club midfielder Jose Callejon insists that his side are travelling north for the win.
“We can’t overlook La Liga because Atletico [Madrid] are right there. But now we’re going to try and win in Germany. We have to pick up a good result there so we can come to the Bernabeu with guarantees and try to make it to the final. This is the final stage, the most exciting, difficult and hardest", explained the Spaniard.
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Malaga (09/04; Champions League)
Greuther Furth 1-6 Borussia Dortmund (13/04; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Mainz 05 (20/04; Bundesliga)
Galatasaray 3-2 Real Madrid (09/04; Champions League)
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Real Madrid (14/04; La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-1 Real Betis (20/04; La Liga)
Borussia Dortmund: Sebastian Kehl; Mustafa Amini; Patrick Owomoyela
Real Madrid: Michael Essien (doubt); Luka Modric (doubt); Marcelo; Alvaro Arbeloa (suspended)
Players to watch
Borussia Dortmund – Robert Lewandowski: The Polish striker cannot be overlooked as his side rely on him for goals. Lewandowski scored the last time the two sides met at the Westfalenstadion on 24th October and already has six strikes to his name so far in the Champions League.
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The idea of a loss is very probable for Real Madrid as they tend to struggle on the road. Therefore, the visitors will have to call on their best player to come up with away goals that could prove to be vital in the reverse leg. The winger has 11 goals so far in Europe and will want to increase his tally.
Real Madrid will not be short of confidence, but history has taught that they often tend to find life difficult away from the Santiago Bernabeu and this time will not be any different in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Borussia Dortmund’s backyard. Expect the home side to win, but Real Madrid to grab a goal to keep the tie very much alive. Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Real Madrid.
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