Real Madrid face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night looking for a good result that would go far towards securing top spot in the group. Coach Zinedine Zidane will not have forgotten his side’s recent troubles in Germany – losing to both Wolfsburg and Schalke in the past two years – nor that Dortmund knocked out Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu on the way to the final in 2013.
We break down six reasons why Zidane should be wary of tonight’s opponents.
Dortmund’s speed in attack
Thomas Tuchel’s side are lightning quick up front. Ousmane Dembelé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will cause problems for the Madrid defence, especially if full-backs Carvajal or Nacho push too far up the pitch. Zidane is at least fortunate that he won’t have to deal with Marco Reus, who is still out with the groin strain that kept him out of Euro 2016.
A young side hungry for success
Dortmund are a young side keen to make their mark. A number of big name players including Mkhitaryan, Gundogan, Hummels and Leitner all left this summer but the club has invested €110 million to replace them, bringing in the likes of Schurrle, Gotze, Dembelé, Rode, Guerreiro, Bartra, Emre Mor, Merino, Burnic and Bandowski. The squad has an average age of just 22 ½.
A team in excellent form
Tuchel’s side come into Tuesday’s game on the back of four straight wins, racking up twenty goals and conceding just two in the process. They sit three points behind Bayern Munich having lost away at RB Leipzig earlier in the season, though that defeat is now well behind them.
Real Madrid’s difficulty playing in Germany
The reigning European champions have won just 4 of their 29 games away from home against German sides. In fact, Real Madrid have never won at the Westfalenstadion in 5 attempts; Dortmund have come out on top in 3 matches while 2 ended in a draw.
The ‘Yellow Wall’ that takes up one end of the stadium is one of the most famous and intimidating stands in world football. Bastian Schweinsteiger once said of the 30,000-strong ‘Wall’ that it was “what scares me most about Dortmund.”
Manager Tomas Tuchel
Tuchel is a manager in the mould of Pep Guardiola with tremendous tactical nous. He likes to play with pace and sit his defensive line high up the pitch. He controls everything, from his players’ diets to their bedtimes.
“Borussia Dortmund is synonymous with attacking football,” he said upon his appointment as manager in 2015 and he didn’t disappoint. His side created 131 clear goal scoring opportunities last season, the most in all the Bundesliga.