The Champions League showdown between Manchester United and Real Madrid will steal all of the headlines, but Borussia Dortmund made a resounding statement with its 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Madrid’s 2-1 win had star power, drama and controversy, and it will ultimately help Dortmund’s incredible talent stay under the radar.
Once again, this team proved that it has all the necessary components to be European champions.
After going undefeated in the Group of Death, Dortmund was not overly impressive when playing Shakhtar in Ukraine. They still managed to notch two away goals in a draw.
It was an entirely different story when the two teams met in Germany, even though Dortmund was without star centre-back Mats Hummels, who missed the match with the flu.
While Shakhtar proved to be a competitive side during its time in Europe, it was not a team capable of making a deep run. In order for Dortmund to prove that it is ready to reach the finals, it needed to deliver a complete and dominant performance.
This is exactly what the German side displayed today.
Felipe Santana’s goal proved that even with Hummels on the bench, the team still has centre-backs who are disciplined defensively and dangerous on set pieces.
The second goal showed the team’s true quality in open play, as Robert Lewandowski delivered a perfect cross to Mario Gotze. Finally, Jakub Blaszczykowski sealed a victory by tapping in a rebound, while reminding the other UCL teams that Dortmund will not let mistakes go unpunished.
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On the other end, goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller proved capable of making acrobatic saves to maintain a clean sheet. His back line also played an exceptional match, and the group will improve once Hummels is fit again.
There are no weak spots in the Dortmund lineup. The team’s group of attackers is talented, dangerous and full of goals.
With Madrid through to the next round, Bayern Munich possessing a comfortable lead and Barcelona trailing AC Milan but still alive, there will be intense competition going forward.
Dortmund’s youth will be a concern in the coming rounds. But when the team is focused and playing at its best, it can challenge any team in the tournament.
The German side will have plenty of confidence going forward after recording such a dominant result in the knockout stage. The team deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Madrid, Bayern and the other teams with a legitimate shot to hoist the Champions League trophy in late May.