Why Dortmund vs. Barcelona Is the Champions League Semifinal We All Want to See
It is probably fair to say that they are the four best teams in Europe right now, which is not always the case when you get to this stage of the competition.
Another notable point is that the semifinalists consist of the two champions of Germany and Spain from last season and, barring a huge collapse from the Blaugrana, the two champions of Germany and Spain this season.
With the Bundesliga and the Primera Division widely considered to be Europe's top leagues now, it will be a fascinating proposition no matter which way the balls come out in Friday's draw.
But there is one matchup that fans will hope to see more than others—Barcelona versus Dortmund.
Having seen El Clasico and Der Klassiker plenty of times over the last few seasons in their domestic leagues, as well as being witness to Bayern against Real Madrid last season—and considering that Dortmund and Madrid already did battle in this season's group phase—I can say that Die Schwarzgelben against possibly the greatest club side of all time is the one we all want to see.
Unquestionably, Dortmund would enter the tie as underdogs, but that will probably be true no matter who they draw in the semifinals. Still, having played Real Madrid twice this season and claiming a win and a draw, Jurgen Klopp's side would have nothing to fear.
If Dortmund have their full side out—in particular, Mats Hummels returning to full fitness—then Barcelona could be in trouble due to the style that they possess.
With the ability to cut sides open on the break, Dortmund would happily allow Barcelona their usual dominance in possession, but with the Hummels' ability to distribute from the back and go long, and the short, sharp passing of Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield, there would be plenty of spaces to expose Barcelona once Dortmund seized possession.
If Lionel Messi can regain full fitness, then his battle against Neven Subotic and Hummels would be intriguing. While it would be foolish to suggest that any defensive duo could stop the Argentine, Dortmund's pair have the tools to be able to frustrate Messi if he's not quite at his very best.
If Messi is either absent or not close to his best form, the effectiveness of Barça's wide players will be limited. David Villa, in particular, was completely ineffective without Messi to distract the majority of the opposition's defenders against PSG on Wednesday.
The other fascinating battle in this tie would be whether Dortmund's mercurial duo of attacking midfielders could slice open the Barcelona midfield, which lacks pace and mobility.
Marco Reus and Mario Goetze are particularly nimble and elusive when moving in transition, and if Barcelona were to field their usual trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, there would be a distinct lack of athleticism and pace to be able to track the runs of these outstanding individuals.
It would really test the tactical make-up of Tito Vilanova, who would have to prove that he is able to turn a game in Barcelona's favour when the opposition pose a considerable threat and are ideally suited, in terms of style, to combat Barça.
Yes, Messi could return to fitness and make Vilanova's task irrelevant by sweeping aside anybody that stands in his way, but with a lingering hamstring injury and defensive issues to solve, this could be Barcelona's toughest matchup yet.
And without the experience of playing this side before, Messi simply reacting to what happens during the game could be dangerous due to the fine margins that decide the outcome of these ties.
Think about how close Barcelona were to being eliminated against PSG—just 20 minutes. Vilanova will know that if Barça are not up to their best, Dortmund could be capable of taking a lead into the second leg, similar to the way Milan did. But they possess a stronger squad which would be able to defend such a lead.
So, yes, it is partly the element of mystery that prompts most fans to crave this tie, but Barcelona against Dortmund really would be one of the most intriguing Champions League matchups in years.
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