Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund: 3 Key Statistical Battles

Jack WatsonFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2014

Real Madrid face their German tormentors of last season as Borussia Dortmund once again head to the Spanish capital to inflict European damage.

Dortmund annihilated—there really is no other word—Madrid in the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, reaching the final where they were eventually beaten by Bayern Munich.

That team was a collection of raw, unadulterated attacking flair, passion driven on by the Yellow Wall and the charismatic Jurgen Klopp stood on the sidelines. They stole the hearts of fans all around Europe while ripping out Madrid's.

The attacking quartet of Mario Goetze, Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski provided the most dangerous threat of all before meeting Bayern at Wembley.

Their defence featuring Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek was exciting to say the least. Everything about Dortmund was pure exhilaration. 

It's different this year, though. Unfortunately they've been decimated by injuries to key areas of the squad all season. Ilkay Gundogan, who was such a star last season, has been missing since the first day of this season; the defence has been blown apart by injuries while Blaszczykowski will miss the rest of the season, like so many others.

This will be a different tie to last season as Real Madrid have the power now and should blow Dortmund away.

Using the statistics from Squawka, let's take a look at the key battles that will take place on Wednesday night.


Sergio Ramos vs. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

With Robert Lewandowski suspended in the first leg, Klopp will have to start with Aubameyang up front. He has been excellent for Dortmund in his first season at the club, even taking some people by surprise. He has it all in his locker and that's why Dortmund were so desperate to sign him last summer.

The striker has 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season, just three less than Lewandowski. He's converted 27.7 percent of his chances and hit the target with 64 percent of his shots, too, showing how accurate and lethal he can be.

He's been less lethal in Europe, though, having scored one goal in seven games. Aubameyang has converted 16.7 percent of his chances in the Champions League this season, but is still lethal, as proven by his league stats.


Ramos has been on form this season, aside from his recent sending off against Barcelona. Ramos, however graceful and collected he comes across, is a brutal central defender to come up against. He takes no prisoners and has won 92 headed duels in La Liga this season. That will come in handy when up against Dortmund's centre-forward.

He's also come out on top in 46 tackles. To add to those defensive figures, Ramos has made 119 clearances, 56 interceptions and 13 blocks in his 26 appearances.

In the Champions League, he has won 11/18 headed duels and 9/13 tackles, continuing his impressive league form. 

The victor of Aubameyang vs. Ramos will have a huge impact on the end result. Should Ramos keep him quiet, Madrid shouldn't have any problems dispatching the German side.


Xabi Alonso vs. Nuri Sahin

Both central midfielders have a huge task to control their team's tempo and movement. On the large Bernabeu pitch, which both players have experienced in a Madrid shirt, passing, pace and control will be key as both sides' deadly forwards will need service from midfield.

Xabi Alonso is many people's ideal central midfielder. His grace and passing range is matched by his tenacity and bite in the tackle. Equally so, Nuri Sahin is one that many admire. He may not be at the top of his game like when he led Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles, but he's an important cog of the ever-evolving Borussia Dortmund side.

Sahin has played in all of Dortmund's Champions League games this season and has starred in their midfield. In their earlier season victory over Arsenal, Sahin completed 58 passes in a commanding display at the Emirates. He has been their outstanding midfielder this season but still pales in significance to Alonso whose Champions League stats dwarf Sahin's.

Due to the Spaniard playing three games fewer than Sahin, it would only be fair to measure their figures over 90-minute averages.

Alonso has completed 77.8 passes per 90 minutes in Europe while Sahin has just 57—a huge difference. Dortmund are notoriously a team that do not hold onto the ball for long periods as they choose to break with speed and precision. 

Having said that, Sahin does see an awful lot of the ball but clearly not as much as Alonso, who will pick off Dortmund if they do not pressure him.

Alonso has completed 91 percent of his passes compared to Sahin's 80 percent. Again, another large difference but the Turkish midfielder has created more chances and averages more, too. Sahin has created 13 chances to Alonso's three.

Despite that, and some misgivings that Alonso may convey, he passes the ball forward more often than his counterpart. Some would have you believe that Alonso just passes the ball easily to his side or behind him. It is quite the opposite, though, as he averages almost 55 forward passes every 90 mins in Europe, compared to Sahin's 51.25.

Alonso's form has tailed off in recent weeks so now could be the perfect chance for Sahin to dominate the Spaniard. His class still exudes, however, and he will be a tough opponent for Dortmund to deal with. There is a lot riding on this particular midfield battle.


Gareth Bale vs. Lukasz Piszczek

Bale has had a great first season in Spain. He leads the assist charts with 12 and has scored some impressive goals to take his overall tally to 16 goals in all competitions.

After making a world record £86 million move from Tottenham, a lot more was expected of him but in his first season outside of England, his figures aren't too bad. He provides ample threat on the opposite side to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bale has scored four goals in seven Champions League matches this season, but he hit the target with just 35 percent of his efforts. He's also created eight chances (three assists) and completed 13/22 take-ons. Whichever way you put it, Bale is a handful and will be again versus Dortmund.

Another figure in Bale's favour is that he's not committed a foul in Europe but has won six, proving how difficult he is to keep down.

With Marcel Schmelzer out injured, Piszczek will likely fill in on his side and is a solid defender. Despite playing on the opposite side, he could deal with him if pitted against the Welshman. The Polish defender has lost out on just two of his seven headed duels in Europe and won 5/8 tackles. He has suffered from some injury problems this season but should feature for the Germans in Spain.


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