Dethroned German champions Borussia Dortmund will look to book their place in the UEFA Champions League final when they take on Real Madrid this week in Germany.
Having played Madrid twice in the group stages of the competition and going unbeaten against the Spanish champions, Jurgen Klopp's side will be quietly confident about their chances of success in this one—especially given their first-leg home advantage.
However, any side that features superstar Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be counted out, as the star winger looks to build upon his stellar European season with another strong showing for Los Blancos.
Who will gain the upper hand from the first leg of this European semifinal?
Read on for a full preview including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis and predictions for this fascinating Champions League clash.
Date: Wednesday, 24, 2013
Start time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, coverage of this match can be found in the United States via SiriusXM FC and FOX Deportes. Sky Go and Sky Sports 2/HD will do the same throughout the United Kingdom.
2012-13 UEFA Champions League so Far
|Borussia Dortmund||Real Madrid|
W4, D2, L0
(11 goals for, five against)
W3, D2, L1
(15 goals for, eight against)
|Round of 16||
W1, D1, L0
(Five goals for, two against)
W1, D1, L0
(Three goals for, two against)
W1, D1, L0
(Three goals for, two against)
W1, D0, L1
(Five goals for, three against)
Borussia Dortmund's Key Player: Mats Hummels, CB
Dortmund will know that they are only in the Champions League quarterfinals by the grace of the footballing gods—sneaking through against Malaga with two goals in the dying minutes of the game.
Malaga seemingly unlocked Dortmund's midfield and defense, which had been so tough in the Champions League up until that stage, with the absence of Mats Hummels a huge reason behind the German giants' struggles. And with Hummels back for this one, Dortmund will surely see a resurgence in their defensive solidity and overall cohesion as an attacking unit.
Hummels is the glue that holds their defense together, and his presence against Madrid's attack will be a huge boost for the home side.
Los Blancos have a number of attackers—starting with Ronaldo—who are capable of having incredible performances on the night, and it will be up Hummels to stop them from having their way.
If he can do that then Dortmund should walk away from the Westfalenstadion without a deficit to make up, and something to work with heading to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid's Key Player: Angel Di Maria, RM
While the majority of the focus will be on the left-winger for Madrid (Ronaldo), the key player will actually be the guy on the opposite side of the field.
Angel Di Maria was a far bigger threat for Dortmund in the two games that they played earlier in the year, and will likely have a similar impact throughout this one.
His ability to get down the right flank and then cut into the middle proved unstoppable, and had he chalked up a better shooting performance and taken one of the tough chances afforded to him, Madrid may well have earned a different result against the German giants.
Ronaldo will attract plenty of attention on the left wing, which should see Di Maria find a little bit more space through the middle and on the right.
He has the proven talent to be a genuine X-factor here for Madrid, and a real weapon on the counterattack—something that Dortmund will be looking to shut down completely in this first leg.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: What Was Learned from the Group Stage?
It's rare for two sides in the same group to meet in the Champions League semifinals, with both Dortmund and Madrid having a surprise advantage here.
They know what the other team is capable of, they know how to beat their opponent and they know how their opponent is capable of beating them—meaning the adjustments they make from the group stage could well turn out to be the difference in this fixture.
Dortmund found great space on the edge of the box across both legs against Madrid, with their ability to cut in quickly from the flanks opening up their opponents' defense. They'll no doubt be looking to replicate that here and improve on their counterattack, which was key for them in both legs.
Madrid will know that they need to work the ball out of their own end more, and not simply try to beat Dortmund on the counter. They scored once or twice in the two legs like that, but overall they did not have great success on the fast break—finding better success by moving the ball up the right flank and then working it through the middle in Di Maria and Mesut Ozil.
Whichever team learned the most from their group stage games and puts that into practice here will emerge victorious and earn a huge advantage for the second leg.
Three Stats to Consider
15. This is Borussia Dortmund's first Champions League semifinal appearance in 15 years. Their last appearance was in 1998, where they were knocked out 2-0 on aggregate by Real Madrid.
0. Borussia Dortmund are the only undefeated team left in the Champions League this season, and have won all five of their home games in the competition.
23. Real Madrid have scored 23 goals in the Champions League this season, with an average of 20 shots per game—the most out of any team this year.
Having shown their hand against Madrid twice this season—and walking away with a win and a draw—Borussia Dortmund will go into this fixture quietly confident in their ability, and so they should.
They have been dominant in the Champions League so far, and have made their own luck in the tournament. What's more, their attack has been simply mesmerizing at times, and should find plenty of opportunities against a Madrid side that has struggled for defensive solidity throughout all competitions this season.
Jurgen Klopp has created a young and vibrant side with class oozing from every position, and with a dominant home advantage, they should be good for some early goals against Madrid.
Los Blancos will threaten, but Dortmund have shown this year they can handle what Madrid throws at them. They should walk away with a stirring victory from this one and a fascinating fixture lined up for the return leg at the Bernabeu next week.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2, Real Madrid 0
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