Peter Bosz’s side fell to a 3-1 defeat in Week 1 against Tottenham Hotspur, and the pressure is on to ensure Real Madrid don’t leave the Signal Iduna Park with all three points tonight.
Another consecutive defeat would leave Dortmund with zero points from two games, creating a six-point gap between themselves and Los Blancos, whilst Spurs, too, are expected to beat APOEL Nicosia in the other Group H game this evening.
Both Dortmund and Madrid boast strong squads, and whilst Zinedine Zidane has injury issues to navigate, as Karim Benzema, Marcelo and Theo Hernandez are all doubtful, but the Frenchman can still count upon Cristiano Ronaldo to lead the line.
However, Dortmund, too, have their own talismanic striker in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With both forwards looking to get amongst the goals and lead their side to victory, who will be the one to take the initiative tonight?
Who’s in the better form?
Real Madrid haven’t had the best of starts to their La Liga title-defence, drawing two and losing one of their six games (W3), and they consequently languish in sixth place. This can be blamed, largely, on the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner was serving a five-game domestic ban after shoving the official in the back during Madrid’s 3-1 first leg victory over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
As a result, the Portuguese superstar has only made two starts in the all-white of Real Madrid, without scoring or assisting a goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been in scintillating form in the Bundesliga, firing Dortmund to the top of the table and three points clear of Bayern Munich.
Not only has the Gabonese assisted a goal and created seven chances, he’s scored eight goals in six games. It’s a phenomenal return for a phenomenal player and he goes into tonight’s match in the better form.
RealSport Verdict: Aubameyang
Who has the best support?
With Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle the only injury concerns in the final third of the pitch, Aubameyang will have a wealth of options in support against Madrid.
Whilst Christian Pulisic and Maximilian Philipp have been the wide options of choice to flank the Gabonese striker, Andriy Yarmolenko was impressive in the Wembley defeat and could earn the right to start tonight.
No matter who starts, the fact of the matter is that Bosz has fashioned a coherent attacking unit capable of creating chances from any area of the pitch.
For instance, the aforementioned trio have created 24 chances in the Bundesliga, yielding three assists. It’s worth noting, though, that between them, they’ve scored six Bundesliga goals.
Zidane has a wealth of attacking options at his fingertips and the key issue is how to get the best out of Ronaldo without his main foil, Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman has excelled at creating chance after chance his teammate, but his limitations without Ronaldo at his side were obvious in the 2-2 draw with Valencia.
It leaves Gareth Bale, who has stepped up well in Ronaldo’s absence, to join Ronaldo up front. With two goals and an assist to his name in La Liga, as well pace to burn, it could work wonders.
Let’s not forget that Zidane too can call on Isco and Marco Asensio, who have created 22 chances, yielding two assists, whilst Asensio has two goals.
RealSport Verdict: Ronaldo
What are they up against?
For all of Real Madrid’s woes this season, they’re still a strong side defensively and the six goals they’ve conceded is the fifth-best record in La Liga. Dortmund, though, have conceded just once in six Bundesliga fixtures.
Having watched Dortmund play away to Tottenham, it was noticeable how exposed they left themselves on the break. Bosz deployed a gung-ho, all-or-nothing style of football akin to Jurgen Klopp, and it ultimately ended in nothing at Wembley.
Time and time again, the fullbacks bombed forward to join the attack and with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son playing on the shoulder of the last defender, every break practically led to an attempt on goal.
Whilst Spurs were wasteful, I don’t expect Ronaldo to follow suit.
I think this is where Ronaldo will take the edge over Aubameyang, despite the latter’s excellent early season form. Zidane knows how to keep his side compact against the counter-attack, whereas Bosz doesn’t seem to dwell too long on defending.
RealSport Verdict: Ronaldo
RealSport Verdict: Cristiano Ronaldo
It will be interesting to see how Bosz approaches this game, whether he sticks to his guns and attacks Madrid or sits deeper and invites pressure to counter, but the key is to stay tight at the back.
If not, and he neglects the defensive aspect of the game, Ronaldo will put the sword to them and leave Dortmund the happier of the two strikers.
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