No matter what happens here, Dortmund will be playing in the next round of the Champions League. That was clinched with a couple games to spare, but when the groups were originally drawn at the beginning of the season it didn’t look like it was going to be so easy.
Group F was a tough group on paper. Warsaw were always going to be the weakest link, but Sporting are one of the best teams in a solid Portuguese league. And then of course you have Real Madrid, the reigning European champions.
Dortmund smashed Warsaw, squeaked out a couple victories over Sporting, and did what they had to do in securing a late draw at home against Madrid. The shock of the group was Madrid being held to a 3-3 draw by Legia in Poland, in a crazy match that was played without any fans in the stadium. Those dropped points mean that Thomas Tuchel’s side have the advantage going into this last match-day of the group stage.
A draw at the Bernabeu would be enough to see BVB through as group winners. A win for Madrid would send Dortmund through as the runner-up. But this year winning the group may not even matter. There are quite a few good teams that are going to finish second in their group and pose a tricky draw for the knockout stage.
Still, Dortmund fans can be hopeful of a magical European night in Madrid. With the early-season injury crisis finally subsiding, and Real having health problems of their own, the toughest match of the group stage comes at the right time.
Marco Reus is back and already in-form, managing 3 assists in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Monchengladbach. It really can’t be overstated just how important Reus’ return is to the squad. Dortmund have their superstar back on the wing.
Meanwhile, Madrid have a few injuries of their own, including to one of their superstars. Gareth Bale will be out for a few months after having surgery on his ankle over the weekend. They’ll also be missing Toni Kroos, Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Morata, and Danilo.
For Dortmund, the injury list as not as long as it used to be. Nuri Sahin is a new addition after picking up an injury against Monchengladbach. BVB will also be without Burki, Bender, and Guerreiro.
And now the late breaking news is that Shinji Kagawa and Mario Gotze have minor injuries which will keep them out of this game. But they should be back in contention to play FC Koln this weekend.
Madrid had to exert quite a bit of energy on Saturday when they drew 1-1 with Barcelona in El Classico. Los Blancos looked to be heading towards a defeat, but Sergio Ramos saved the day with a late equalizer. Who knows whether the Spanish giants will be motivated or exhausted following their big rivalry clash.
I’m going to go with exhausted and mentally hungover. Various injuries mean that Zinedine Zidane’s starting lineup won’t be completely filled with his first choices. Dortmund’s pressing will unsettle Madrid as well, and hopefully keep them from dominating possession by a large margin.
I don’t think we see Madrid at their best in a game that they really don’t have to win. But they’re still the best team in the world at the moment. They’re unbeaten in their last 23 games in all competitions, and I don’t think we end that streak here.
Dortmund 1-1 Madrid