Alongside Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund represented Germany proudly in its opening leg Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, winning 4-1 at home and continuing its unbeaten streak in the competition this year.
With Bayern Munich beating Barcelona 4-0, it appeared as though German football had taken a step past Spanish football, which has dominated both Europe and the world for the past 10 years. But with still a return leg in Madrid to go, can Real Madrid interrupt this German coronation?
It will be a tall task for sure, but the away goal Real Madrid secured is crucial. And with stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Sergio Ramos, betting against Los Blancos is always a risky proposition.
You won't want to miss a single cross, dipping shot or yellow card, and with my viewing guide (and preview as well) below, you won't have to.
When: Tuesday, April 30, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
Keys for Real Madrid
Attack, attack, attack. While Real Madrid has a difficult task ahead, trailing 4-1 in aggregate, that away goal was crucial, as it means Los Blancos would advance with a 3-0 win. Sure, it's a long shot, but Real Madrid is capable of pulling off the feat.
But Real Madrid must be the aggressor, unlike in the first leg when Dortmund did well to limit sustained periods of Los Blancos possession and absolutely stormed forward on the counter-attack. The Real Madrid back four never had an answer for Marco Reus or Robert Lewandowski.
Real Madrid must start quickly and get an early goal. However, the team also can't be so ambitious in the attack that it opens itself up defensively, as Dortmund is one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the world. Giving up a an early Dortmund goal would be a back-breaker.
Finally, the ball has to go through Ronaldo much, much more often than it did in the first leg. The major advantage Real Madrid has is Ronaldo, who can score in a variety of ways and is the sort of presence for which no team has an answer.
If Real Madrid manages to win this game, it will likely be because Ronaldo has an all-time classic performance.
Keys for Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund needs to find the tricky balance between being defensively sound and still remaining assertive. There is a danger in conceding possession to Real Madrid and sinking back into a defensive shell, as eventually Los Blancos will score if you allow them to boss the game. They simply have too much talent to be denied in that scenario.
But Dortmund also can't be too aggressive and allow Los Blancos spaces to exploit on the counter-attack. If you give Real Madrid space to push forward it will take it, and it has the talent to consistently make you pay.
Dortmund has to take the crowd out of the game early. Eventually, the team is going to sink into a defensive shell and protect its lead, but early in the game Dortmund should remain aggressive and look to score the away goal. Nothing would end this match faster than a quick Dortmund goal, and nothing would more quickly silence the Madrid crowd.
Dortmund has yet to lose a Champions League match. That will change today, but Dortmund is going to do what is necessary to move on. I think Los Blancos will come out with their shorts on fire and take control early, but Dortmund will weather the storm and take the sting out of Madrid's attack.
Real Madrid wins, 2-1, but Dortmund will move on to the Champions League final after winning on aggregate, 5-3.
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