Real Madrid will welcome Borussia Dortmund to the Bernabeu Stadium this week knowing that, without an incredible comeback, their Champions League dream is over.
Los Blancos were dispatched 4-1 by an inspired Dortmund outfit in the first leg, with Polish international striker Robert Lewandowski netting all four goals en route to a phenomenal victory. The win all but guarantees Dortmund's progression through to the Champions League final next month, unless Madrid can pull off one of the more remarkable comebacks in football history.
Jose Mourinho's side are certainly talented and capable of scoring a number of goals—which will give them hope that they can indeed erase the three-goal deficit.
However, this is a very consistent and sound Dortmund we're talking about as well. They are in the semifinals of the Champions League for a reason, and Jurgen Klopp knows how close they are to the final—something he'll have prepared his side for all weekend in advance for this key fixture.
It will take some performance to come back from three goals down here, but are we about to witness the remarkable? Who's going through to the final?
Read on for a full preview of this fixture, including all the key details and live viewing information, as well as analysis, predictions and a whole lot more!
Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Start time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
Live Stream and TV Information
Coverage of this match will be provided in the United States via Fox Soccer Channel, AFN Sports, FOX Deportes and SiriusXM FC. UTV and ITV1 will do the same in the United Kingdom.
All details provided via LiveSoccer TV
2012-13 Champions League: Story So Far
|Real Madrid||Borussia Dortmund|
|Won, 3-2 vs. Manchester City (H)||Won, 1-0 vs. Ajax (H)|
|Won, 4-1 vs. Ajax (A)||Draw, 1-1 vs. Manchester City (A)|
|Loss, 2-1 vs. Borussia Dortmund (A)||Won, 2-1 vs. Real Madrid (H)|
|Draw, 2-2 vs. Borussia Dortmund (H)||Draw, 2-2 vs. Real Madrid (A)|
|Draw, 1-1 vs. Manchester City (A)||Won, 4-1 vs. Ajax (A)|
|Won, 4-1 vs. Ajax (H)||Won, 1-0 vs. Manchester City (H)|
|Draw, 1-1 vs. Manchester United (H)||Draw, 2-2 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (A)|
|Won, 2-1 vs. Manchester United (A)||Won, 3-0 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (H)|
|Won, 3-0 vs. Galatasaray (H)||Draw, 0-0 vs. Malaga (A)|
|Loss, 3-2 vs. Galatasaray (A)||Won, 3-2 vs. Malaga (H)|
|Loss, 4-1 vs. Borussia Dortmund (A)||Won, 4-1 vs. Real Madrid (H)|
Key Players to Watch for Both Teams
Cristiano Ronaldo, LW, Real Madrid
If Madrid are going to pull off arguably the greatest comeback ever seen in Champions League history, then they're going to need their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to have a very big night in Madrid.
Ronaldo did score Madrid's goal in the first leg but was held relatively quiet by the dominance of Dortmund's defense and midfield. That's now the third time Ronaldo has been kept somewhat quiet by the Germans, and Los Blancos will need him to explode here if they're to make it to the final.
The Portuguese international is the top goalscorer in the competition so far this year and looks set to add to his tally here. He was rested on the weekend by Mourinho, and, despite some controversy off the field now causing him some PR nightmares, the reality is that stopping Ronaldo is a difficult thing to do—especially when he's at the Bernabeu in front of his adoring home fans.
Ronaldo has had more shots on target than any other player in the Champions League so far. Can he continue that here and lead Madrid back against Dortmund?
Marco Reus, AM, Borussia Dortmund
After Lewandowski spanked four goals past Madrid in the opening leg, it might seem somewhat bizarre not to consider him the key player. Whilst he is a fundamental component to their attack, it's the man who cuts through the middle in behind him—Marco Reus—that is most important in this one.
Reus played a relatively wide role in the first leg and was able to find great success down the right flank. When he did cut into the middle, he was able to release Lewandowski in attack and combine beautifully with Mario Gotze—something Dortmund will be looking to continue here.
Dortmund aren't going to come to Madrid and simply try to play tika-taka football, nor are they going to park the bus at the back and hope Ronaldo has an off night.
They'll know they got their big aggregate lead by playing good attacking football and will look to do the same again here. And if that's going to happen, it's going to be Reus who is pulling the strings.
Biggest Storylines to Follow
Is Three Goals Too Much for Real Madrid?
The more and more I think about this, the more and more intriguing it becomes: Is three goals too much for Real Madrid to come back from against Dortmund?
Most first inclinations say yes, but the reality is that defending a big lead heading into the second leg is not an easy thing to do. AC Milan showed it against Barcelona, Bayern Munich showed it against Arsenal, Real Madrid showed it against Galatasaray—it's hard to play two or three goals in front.
Thus, if Madrid net the opening goal, this one is definitely back on.
Los Blancos are a brilliant attacking side and possess more than enough firepower to net three goals here. Yes, Dortmund are a technically sound defensive side and have shown to have Madrid's measure this year, but this is a situation they're not used to—and they're also under a lot of pressure.
An early goal, or maybe two goals up at half-time, and this one will definitely get interesting. Three goals is a lot for Madrid, but they have shown they can score goals when needed, and they aren't completely out this semifinal just yet.
Can Dortmund Finish What They Started at the Bernabeu?
Dortmund will hold no fear coming to the Bernabeu Stadium this week, having already shown that they are capable of pushing the Spanish giants on their own ground.
And not many teams can make that claim in the past few years.
Dortmund ended with a 2-2 draw against Los Blancos after Mesut Ozil's free-kick found the back of the net with only a handful of minutes to play. They had defended gallantly up until that point, with Lewandowski and Co. capitalizing brilliantly on any mistakes afforded by Los Blancos, which they'll no doubt look to do in the second leg here as well.
The key for the Germans might seem like putting up a strong defensive front, but the reality is that their attack again holds the power in this fixture.
If Dortmund can net even one goal—which doesn't seem hard given how easily they netted four in the first leg—then that would be the semifinal. Madrid would be forced into scoring four goals to win, and it's hard to see them doing that against the likes of Hummels and Dortmund's defense.
Borussia Dortmund must finish what they started at the Bernabeu and not let this one slip away late like last time they made the journey to Spain.
Three Stats to Consider
4. When Robert Lewandowski scored four goals against Real Madrid, it was the first time any player had scored four goals in a Champions League semifinal. It was also the first time a player had scored four goals against Real Madrid in a Champions League game.
1. Only one team has ever won after being 4-1 down from the first leg in the Champions League, with Deportivo La Coruna beating AC Milan 4-0.
52. Cristiano Ronaldo has recorded 52 shots on target so far in the Champions League—more than any other player in the tournament.
Real Madrid will no doubt try to talk up their chances of success in this fixture, and those chances will dramatically increase if they can net the opening goal of the game. However, even then, it's hard to see them breaking down a Dortmund side they haven't been able to beat in three attempts.
Dortmund's attack is strong and will be fresh from the weekend—making it more than likely to score against Los Blancos' flimsy defense. And when that happens, this one is all over.
I like Madrid to chalk up the win in this fixture, but I can't see Dortmund getting knocked out here. They'll want to beat their German rivals in Bayern Munich next month and will know that they are so close to making that a reality, despite the doubts that have emerged along the way.
Madrid are talented in attack and will thrive from being more direct in their approach, but it won't be enough. The damage was done in the opening leg, and there was simply no way back for Los Blancos.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2, Borussia Dortmund 1
(Borussia Dortmund win 5-3 on aggregate; go through to final)
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