Defense will determine whether Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid advances to the UEFA Champions League Final.
Defense? Why defense? We want goals. I know that's what you're thinking. But ultimately, you know I'm right.
Good defense will send either Dortmund or Madrid to Wembley. And here is why.
Both teams were drawn into Group D at the beginning of the Champions League season. Group D was dubbed the Group of Death.
As we all know by now, Dortmund went undefeated, and won the group.
We can draw on the things we learned from the matches between the two sides to help us try to figure out what may happen when these two face off again.
The second game ended in a 2-2 draw. Dortmund received goals from Marco Reus and an own goal from Alvaro Arbeloa. Pepe and Mesut Ozil scored for Madrid.
Goals were not easy to come by in either of these matches for both teams. I expect it will not be easy in the semifinals either.
With players like Reus and Ronaldo, scoring should be abundant. But it has not been.
Dortmund's defense has been solid throughout the Champions League. The team has only allowed two goals, three times in a total of 10 UCL matches.
Bottom line: it's difficult to get through Jurgen Klopp's defense.
Meanwhile, Madrid has been almost as impressive with its defense. The team has conceded two goals, four times in its 10 matches and three goals in one.
Here is another interesting fact: Real has had one clean sheet in its 10 Champions League matches. Dortmund has had four.
While the star forwards have been playing well, the defenses have been playing even better.
Neither Ronaldo nor Robert Lewandowski will determine the fate of their teams. Look for Mats Hummels or Pepe to affect the outcome.
However, both teams are coming into these upcoming matches with some injuries to their back lines.
Madrid's Marcelo picked up an injury against Real Betis this past weekend and will most likely miss the first leg of the Champions League. Jose Mourinho's squad will also be playing without Alvaro Arbeloa because he is suspended. It is a toss up as to whether Fabio Coentrao will return.
With some of its veterans missing, Madrid will have to turn to its young stars like Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez. Both great players, but how will they handle the pressure?
Dortmund will head into its Champions League matches with a healthier back line. Mats Hummels who missed a matches a few weeks ago is fully healthy again. Marcel Schmelzer suffered a broken nose on March 30th but has been playing with a mask.
Klopp will have a full defense at his disposal.
The only problem he may face is determining which of his defenders to play. Neven Subotic and Felipe Santana are both in form. Santana received minutes while Hummels was out. He will likely be benched despite having scored the game-winning goal against Malaga to get to the semifinals. Dortmund's strongest back line will be available. Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek will most likely start.
It appears that Dortmund may have the advantage, but both teams have seen some changes since meeting at the end of 2012. Neither have their domestic league title to play for. The sole focus is the UCL title.
Instead of thinking of this game as a match between offensive powers, it will be smarter to look at it through a defensive point-of-view.
We've heard it time and time again. Defense wins championships. In this case, defense will get either Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid to the UEFA Champions League Final. Expect a low-scoring affair.
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