Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lock horns again in the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League. The Spanish side welcomes the Germans on Wednesday, April 2 at Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, almost a year after Borussia knocked Madrid out of last season’s semi-finals, winning the ticket for the Wembley final.
The two teams met four times in total in the 2012-13 edition of the Champions League. Their first two matches were in the group stage, with Dortmund winning 2-1 at home and drawing 2-2 away. They renewed their rivalry in the semi-finals, where the German side prevailed, after a 4-1 home triumph –with four goals from Polish striker Robert Lewandowski – and a 2-0 defeat at the Bernabeu.
A year later, Carlo Ancelotti is on the helm at Madrid in the place of Jose Mourinho and one of the stars of last season’s team, Mesut Özil, moved to Arsenal. Borussia on the other hand saw their midfield maestro Mario Götze moving to European champions Bayern Munchen, while Lewandowski is out of the first leg due to suspension.
Madrid fighting on all fronts
Madrid are fast approaching the business end of a season, still fighting on three fronts. They are currently third in La Liga after two defeats in the last three matches, trailing arch-rivals Barcelona by two points and leaders Atletico Madrid by three. They will play Barca in the final of the Spanish Cup –known as the Copa Del Rey- and are looking to go further in the Champions League after making it to the semis last season.
Ancelotti’s side won their group comfortably beating Galatasaray, Juventus and Kobenhavn, while in the Round of 16 they saw of Dortmund’s arch-rivals Schalke with two wins, a 6-1 triumph in Germany followed by a 3-1 win at home. For the Borussia match, the Italian manager must do without striker Jesé, midfielder Khedira and defender Alvaro Arbeloa. Once again they will rely on the striking power of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Borussia without Lewandowski
Borussia Dortmund captivated the fans last season, making it to the Champions League final, where they lost 2-1 by compatriots Bayern Munchen, but this season is proving to be more difficult for charismatic manager Jurgen Klopp. The loss of their best player Götze to the Bavarians and many injury problems have undermined Borussia’s league campaign, where they are trailing champions Bayern by a whopping 28 points.
They are doing much better in Europe though. They won a difficult group against Arsenal, Napoli and Olympique de Marseille, going on to beat Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg in the Round of 16 after a 4-2 win away and a 2-1 defeat at home. Compared to the side that beat Madrid last season over two legs, there will be as many as seven changes in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s match. Götze is no more, top-gun Lewandowski is suspended, regular defenders Marcel Schmelzer and Neven Subotic are injured, the same goes for midfielders Ilkay Gundogan, Kuba Blaszcykowski and Sven Bender. Greek defender Sokratis
Papastathopoulos will partner Mats Hummels in the heart of defence and Erik Durm will take Schmelzer’s place at left back. In midfield, experienced captain Sebastian Kehl will partner Nuri Sahin, while Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Kevin Grosskreutz must provide ammunition for speedy French striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Alonso, Di Maria; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Weidenfeller; Pisczek, Papastathopoulos, Hummels, Durm; Kehl, Sahin; Reus, Mkhitaryan, Grosskreutz; Aubameyang.
TV Info: 11:45 AM Pacific, Fox Deportes, Fox Sports 2 USA.