Why Real Madrid Will See off Borussia Dortmund and Reach Champions League Final
Following Friday’s draw in Nyon for the semi-finals of this season’s UEFA Champions League, there still remains the very real possibility of a first-ever Real Madrid versus Barcelona European Cup final in the competition’s 58-year history after both Liga giants were kept apart.
However, before that can happen, Jose Mourinho’s side will need to overcome a physiological hurdle of sorts when it comes to facing German opposition in Europe. If they can manage that, then they will be within just 90 minutes of finally getting their hands on the cup with the big ears for the first time since 2002.
And these are the reasons why Los Blancos will emerge victorious against Dortmund in their two-legged semi-final on April 24 and 30.
The Mou Factor
It is an open secret in Planet Football that Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho will be departing the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season, and anyone who knows anything about the attention-seeking Portuguese will know that he loves nothing better than a grand departure in front of the watching world.
Whether it be the 2004 Champions League final with FC Porto or at the same show-piece event while in charge of Inter Milan six years later, the self-styled "Special One" is famed for exiting a club on the back of a European Cup win.
And you would be foolish for thinking that things are going to be any different this time around, as Mourinho says his goodbyes to Madrid following a record-breaking third Champions League title with a third different club safely under his belt at Wembley Stadium in May.
It is just destiny and Dortmund are going to be pretty hard pressed to compete with that I am afraid.
Practice Makes Perfect
Any underdog can have their day in the sun, usually as a result of overconfidence on the part of the more favoured opponent.
However, what is far less likely to happen is for the favourites to make the same mistakes again, and this is where Madrid hold a big advantage over their opponents going into the semi-final.
These two sides met each other in the group stage, with Jurgen Klopp’s men recording a well-deserved 2-1 win in their first meeting at the Westfalenstadion last October, before a 2-2 draw in the Spanish capital in the return match the following month.
But Mourinho—being the type of coach that he is—will now have his players programmed to every little detail and nuance of the Germans ahead of their semi-final showdown, so that this time there will be no surprises for his well-marshaled team.
La Decima Dream
It has been a quite incredible 11 years since Real Madrid captain Fernando Ruiz Hierro lifted the greatest trophy in club football on a wet evening at Hampden Park, and you would have got some odd looks had you suggested back then that the most successful team in the competition’s history would still be searching for title No 10 over a decade later.
And while that obsession with La Decima has often proved too much for the nine managers who followed Vincente del Bosque, things finally seem to be falling into place this campaign under head coach No 10, in Europe at least.
Oddly enough, whenever Madrid struggle for form on the domestic front, you can pretty much guarantee that they will be riding high in Europe, and that once again seems to be the case this season.
Dortmund may be a well-organised, technically-accomplished outfit, but when they come up against the power and might of the world’s biggest club on a mission to end 11 years of hurt, then there can only really be one winner.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Both statically and emotionally speaking, you would always rather play the second leg of a European tie on your own ground, and that is exactly the scenario that Mourinho and Co have been handed following Friday’s draw at UEFA HQ.
Now the Liga champions can travel to the Ruhr Valley first up and therefore avoid the type of ambush that their fellow Spaniards Malaga endured at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday night.
If the team secures any type of positive result in Germany—or even a one-nil defeat or a loss with an away goal in the bag—you would bet your house on Los Blancos finishing the job in the return leg at the White House.
Portuguese Man of War
When you have on current form the world’s best player in your team, then you can be forgiven for being confident about beating any side you come up against, and this is exactly how Madrid will be approaching their semi-final against Dortmund.
Regardless of the fact Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is the present Fifa Ballon d’Or winner, it is Real’s Portugal international who is actually the top scorer in this season’s Champions League.
With 48 goals in just 47 games in all competitions for Los Blancos so far this season—including 11 in only 10 matches in Europe—he appears to be on a one-man mission to prove a point to those who voted the little Argentinian as the world’s best player.
And you also know full well that Klopp and his men will not fancy one little bit trying to marshal the powerful Portuguese over the course of 180-plus minutes of action later this month.
Third Time Lucky
Oddly enough for a coach with the qualities, knowhow and big-match temperament of Jose Mourinho, his record when it comes to the semi-finals of European competitions is not what one would expect.
During his 13-year coaching career, the Portuguese has taken part in seven European semis. He has, however, actually lost four of those, including his last two in a row as Madrid boss, against Barcelona (2011) and Bayern Munich (2012).
Surely there is no way in the world that Mou could possibly be on the end of three straight Champions League semi-final defeats in a row, could he?
No, not a chance…
No Place Like Home
Similar to when players shine when returning to their former clubs, expect Germany international duo Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira to both bring their A-games in the semi-final against Dortmund.
Although neither midfield player has a point to prove or anything to the watching German public at large, the very fact that so many eyes from home will be focussed on this contest is sure to produce a positive reaction from each key man over the course of the two legs.
And in heavyweight contests that are ultimately decided by such small margins, you never know, an Ozil winner or a man-of-the-match display from Khedira could end up tipping the tie in Madrid’s favour.
Records Are There to Be Broken
Sure, Madrid’s record in Germany is quite appalling, having won just once in their past 24 competitive matches in the country, a run that includes 17 defeats, as was the case in October when Dortmund beat them 2-1.
However, as the saying goes: “Records are there to be broken,” and knowing Mourinho, he will actually be using this peculiar statistic as a motivating tool ahead of the first leg at the Westfalenstadion with which to produce a defiant display from his charges.
Been There, Done It and Got the T-Shirt
Last but not least, the relative big-match experience of the two sides gives Madrid a huge advantage over their German opponents, whether that be in the latter stages of the Champions League, the European Championships or the World Cup.
Despite Dortmund’s eventual 3-2 win over Malaga in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night, there was still a huge element of good fortune about their two injury-time goals in a contest which at times demonstrated a certain naivety.
And, against a team of Madrid’s greater European knowhow, Klopp’s side just would not have been possible to produce such a dramatic turnaround.