The highly competitive Champions League Group D resumes on Wednesday (7.45pm BST) when Borussia Dortmund host Real Madrid at the Signal-Iduna Park.
Real Madrid currently lead the so-called ‘Group of Death’ on six points, followed by Dortmund on four, Manchester City on one and Ajax on zero.
This match is the first of a double header between the top two in the group, with Dortmund set to travel to Madrid for the return match in two weeks time. Dortmund have been far more impressive in this season’s Champions League than they were in last year’s competition, already equalling the four points they obtained from all six group matches last time around.
In that campaign, coach Jurgen Klopp appeared to neuter the heavy pressing, energetic attacking approach that has become a hallmark of the club during his reign. His charges looked ill at ease playing in an unfamiliar manner and fell to four defeats in finishing bottom of their group.
This season, however, the two-time reigning German champions have been truer to their normal style and have successfully transferred their domestic performances to the European stage.
A late Robert Lewandowski strike gave Dortmund victory at home to Ajax in their opener and they were incredibly unfortunate to only draw 1-1 away to Manchester City last time out, a superb performance from City goalkeeper Joe Hart robbing them of three points that would have been richly deserved.
Dortmund were simply excellent, conceding the lion’s share of possession but attacking with such verve and incision that they still managed nearly double the number of shots of the home side. It was an outstanding team performance, albeit one in which certain individuals shone.
Primary among those was Marco Reus, scorer of Dortmund’s goal and a consistent tormenter of the Manchester City defence. A fast, incisive dribbler who can strike the ball well off either foot, he will certainly prove a handful for the Madrid defence as part of a fluid Dortmund attack also featuring Mario Goetze and the aforementioned Lewandowski.
Klopp does have some selection worries ahead of the visit of Madrid, primarily the absence through injury of the Polish right winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, provider of nine assists last season and three already in the current campaign.
Blaszczykowski was one of four first team players to miss Dortmund’s defeat at home to Schalke in the Ruhr derby at the weekend, but the others – Goetze, Marcel Schmelzer and Ilkay Gundogan – all look likely to recover in time to face Madrid, who have injury problems of their own.
Coach Jose Mourinho will be without defenders Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao for the trip to Germany. In their absence, Michael Essien was forced to fill in at left-back in the 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday and could resume that role on Wednesday, with Sergio Ramos, Pepe and one of Raphael Varane or Raul Albiol making up the rest of the back four.
Mourinho has, however, received some good news, with Sami Khedira recovered from the injury that forced him to miss out against Celta. He will line up alongside Xabi Alonso in the double pivot of Mourinho’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Mezut Ozil looks likely to get the nod to start ahead of them in the central attacking midfield role, despite competition from Luka Modric and Kaka.
Madrid endured a shaky start to the domestic season, losing two and drawing one of their first four matches, but are now undefeated in six in all competitions, including victories in both of their Champions League matches to date.
Two goals in the final four minutes saw them overturn a 2-1 deficit to defeat Manchester City 3-2 at home in their opener and a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick propelled them to a 4-1 demolition of Ajax in the last round of fixtures. They were similarly clinical in last season’s group stage, winning all six matches, scoring 19 and conceding just twice.
Dortmund can, though, take some confidence from Madrid’s terrible away record against German opposition in European competitions. In 23 matches, Madrid have lost 16, drawn six and won just once. The most recent defeat came against Bayern Munich in the semi-final of last year’s Champions League, a tie Madrid went on to lose on penalties.
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid Betting Tips Verdict
Dortmund (33/13 to win at Pinnacle) have made a good start to their Champions League campaign and with Madrid weakened by defensive absences can be confident of causing the Spanish champions some problems.
Madrid (6/5 to win at Blue Square) do, however, possess enough attacking talent of their own to suggest they are unlikely to come away from this match scoreless.
- We therefore believe a score draw is the most probable result, so back the draw @ best odds of 27/10 with Pinnacle.
- Dortmund are likely to come out of the traps strong in the early exchanges to try and gain an advantage before Madrid have had time to settle into the match. With this in mind, we would suggest backing Dortmund to score first @ 13/10 with Coral.