Real Madrid welcome in Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday for what will be the match to watch in this week's Champions League action.
Following a 4-1 defeat in Germany, Madrid will need a historic comeback in order to make the final in London. Unlike their Spanish counterparts, Barcelona, Real Madrid managed to score what could be a critical away goal. A comeback isn't impossible, but it's very unlikely.
Dortmund have wowed even neutral fans for the past three seasons. The club has built through its youth system to conquer the Bundesliga the previous two seasons.
This is also a matchup of two of Europe's best managers: Jose Mourinho of Madrid and Jurgen Klopp of Dortmund. It's always entertaining to see who will outfox whom when two talented managers clash.
Here is everything you need to know for this massive Champions League clash.
Where: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
When: Tuesday, April 30, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX Soccer
Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
What's at Stake
Matches don't get much more important than this. A place in the Champions League final is on the line.
Down three goals, Madrid have to overturn a massive deficit. That one away goal could prove crucial should Los Blancos perform a historic comeback. They'd need a scoreline of at least 3-0 to be able to make it to Wembley. Winning a 10th European title has become an obsession for Real Madrid. Any year they fail to conquer Europe is a failure no matter how well they do in La Liga.
Dortmund will be looking to make their first Champions League final since winning the title in the 1996-97 season. It's the only time in the club's history it has reached the summit of European football.
In terms of the bigger picture, this could signal a changing of the guard for the time being in club football. For so long Spain had a strangle hold on both league and international football. We could be looking at an all-German final, should Dortmund and Bayern Munich prevail in the semifinals. This would be huge for German football
What They're Saying
Although you wouldn't expect him to already wave the white flag, Madrid centre-back Ricardo Carvalho is confident that his team is not too far gone. Although, he knows it's going to take a performance much better than the one last week (h/t Shane Callaghan of Goal.com):
"We have to play at the level that we can and we know that we can score goals because we have top quality players, and we’ll also have to defend well," the defender told the club's official website. "It will be difficult because they have very good players and can score goals, but we can score three goals.
"We know how important it is for us and the club and we will give everything on the pitch on Tuesday. On Tuesday we have to play with more intensity. We did not play well, we did not play as a team and we were not at the level we can play at, but on Tuesday we have to try to win."
After Mario Gotze's transfer to Bayern Munich was leaked last week, Dortmund had to deal with the subsequent media cover and supporter outrage that Gotze would move to Bayern. Now, though, it's Dortmund's opponents who must deal with added an distraction, this involving Mourinho's return to Chelsea. It's a rumor Klopp says he had no part in spreading (h/t Shane Callaghan of Goal.com):
"It is an absolutely ridiculous story," he told reporters. "I never told anyone that Mourinho is going to Chelsea or another club. I'm not a person who does things like that.
"I heard this story before our game with Fortuna and I have to admit I was very sad and angry because it is completely false.
"It is a made up story. Mourinho is a colleague and a friend and I would never mess around in such a manner."
Real Madrid Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo
This is the low-hanging fruit, yet if Madrid are to get a win, it will almost certainly be on the back of Ronaldo. He scored Los Blancos' lone goal in the first leg, albeit it was more the result of a mistake by Mats Hummels.
Madrid need to get their counter firing on all cylinders. The biggest reason the club is so lethal on the counter attack is because it has a player like Ronaldo on the wing.
He was out for Madrid's 2-1 win over rivals Atletico Madrid in the league over the weekend. In the first leg of the semifinal, Ronaldo apparently suffered a thigh muscle injury. He has been deemed fit, though, for the second leg (h/t Reuters via Yahoo! Sports).
Borussia Dortmund Player to Watch: Roman Weidenfeller
It's hard to envision Dortmund will be able to keep Madrid out of the goal for 90 minutes. Los Blancos will be throwing everything they've got in order to get back into the tie. A three-goal deficit means the club can't really afford to wait around and pick its spots.
That means Roman Weidenfeller will have to be at his best.
He was called upon at times in the first leg, but he only faced four shots on goal. Weidenfeller will be tested a lot more in the second leg.
The key will be to prevent an early goal. The longer the match goes, the harder and harder it will be for Madrid to come back.
Don't expect the excitement of the first leg. Well, if you're a Madrid supporter anything will be more exciting for the first leg.
Dortmund can afford to sit back a little more and let Madrid come to them. The Germans can't let Real Madrid get out on the counter attack. That's when Los Blancos are their most lethal. Klopp will be determine to see that not happen.
The result was a draw when these clubs met earlier in the season at the Bernabeu, so Dortmund are not going to be intimidated by the atmosphere.
Madrid will be forced to go out on the attack in the second leg. They have too much attacking talent to think they will be kept off the score sheet. Plus, Mourinho is a tactical maestro, so he'll have a plan devised as to how to best break Dortmund down.
Los Blancos will net a couple, but they surrender a critical away goal that will take them out of the tie for good.
Real Madrid 2, Borussia Dortmund 1