Borussia Dortmund dominated large parts of the game, and if it weren’t for Mourinho’s tactical brilliance, Madrid might have faced a harrowing defeat.
Mourinho will be rightly livid with his players.
The defence was woeful, the midfield lacked in creativity and his best players looked like shadows of their former selves.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a nonentity, while Dortmund’s midfield bossed around Mesut Özil and co. for large parts of the game.
Of all the starters, only Xabi Alonso deserved his starting berth.
With 2-1 down at halftime, Mourinho made two fantastic substitutions—Michael Essien for Luka Modric and Jose Callejon for the injured Gonzalo Higuain.
Essien closed spaces down and looked to be the commander reminiscent of his heyday, and his introduction allowed both Alonso and Özil space in midfield.
Callejon’s pace and positioning caused Dortmund all sort of problems. He was incisive, made great runs and if Angel Di Maria had not been so selfish and taken an ambitious shot in the 72nd minute, Callejon might have registered himself on the score sheet.
After the first half, Jürgen Klopp chose to employ a more defensive tactic, and his team proved extremely resilient and averse to any penetration. The team defended as a unit and thwarted several opportunities. Real Madrid seemed unable to conjure up a goal from open play.
In what seemed to be a highly risky manoeuvre, Mourinho took off Alvaro Arbeloa and put in Kaka. Arbeloa’s withdrawal could have seriously backfired, as Marco Reus had wreaked havoc all over the left-flank.
Nevertheless, Los Blancos proceeded with a three-man defence, with Essien providing excellent cover for his men.
Kaka’s introduction provided an extra man in offense, and this allowed Real Madrid to put overwhelming pressure on Dortmund.
It all paid off when Madrid won a free kick in the dying minutes. A sublime free kick from Özil finally beat Roman Weidenfeller in his near post. Perhaps, the German could’ve done better, as it seemed he was a bit hesitant to get off his ground.
But credit to Özil for showing nerves of steel after having severely underperformed throughout the night and taking the kick instead of Ronaldo.
Mourinho is bound to be disappointed with his players, but Sami Khedira, who often serves as the motor of the team, is missing. But this is no excuse for a team trying to contend for the Champions League.
This time Klopp decided to sit a bit back and try to defend the lead, but perhaps an attacking route might have all but sealed the game for Dortmund. Indeed, Los Merengues were lucky to come away with a point, especially given their abysmal performance in the first half.
There is much work to be done for the reigning Spanish Champions if they wish to covet the Champions League this time around.
As for Borussia Dortmund, they proved yet again that they have gone from pretenders to serious contenders for Europe’s biggest prize—the UEFA Champions League.
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