Perhaps the most mouthwatering tie on matchday two of the UEFA Champions League takes us to the Signal Iduna Park as Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund play host to La Liga Santander runners-up Real Madrid.
It’s a very familiar fixture to say the least – the two sides faced off twice in the 2012/13 competition and once again in the 2014 knockout stage. Moreover, it’s been incredibly even in these match-ups so we should be in for a good one.
Dortmund look in great shape. With a defeat away at RB Leipzig the only real hiccup so far this season, they’ve been fluid, free-scoring and fun to watch. 22 goals in just six games this season is an outstanding start, and their last four outings have included two 6-0 thumpings and a 5-1 demolition of VfL Wolfsburg in the league. So, it’s fair to say their raft of new signings have been clicking and one would expect that to continue on Tuesday.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, have stumbled slightly in the league of late. Two disappointing draws, first at home to Villarreal and then away at Las Palmas, has seen their lead at the top of La Liga cut to one point. Further to this, Cristiano Ronaldo was hauled off by Zinedine Zidane at the weekend so it will be interesting to see how he reacts – his face like thunder on the bench suggested he may be out to prove a point at the Signal Iduna Park.
Dortmund have a host of injuries, but they have coped incredibly well with them so far. Matthias Ginter may replace Marc Bartra at centre-half, while longer-term injuries will keep Erik Durm, Neven Subotić, Sven Bender and Marco Reus on the sidelines. Moreover, André Schürrle is a doubt, meaning Thomas Tuchel has a decision to make on the right hand side.
For Real, it’s mixed news. Keylor Navas would appear to be on the mend and could make the starting XI, but Casemiro is out with a broken leg. In addition, the left-back spot is uncertain for the current Champions League holders after Marcelo came off at half time at the weekend. The likeliest replacement for the Brazilian is Nacho, but Fábio Coentrão is also in contention for the first time in over a season.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Roman Bürki; Felix Passlack, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matthias Ginter, Marcel Schmelzer; Gonzalo Castro, Julian Weigl; Mario Götze, Raphaël Guerreiro, Ousmane Dembélé; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphaël Varane, Sergio Ramos, Nacho; Luka Modrić, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
With Dortmund in such imperious form, as well as a stuttering Real, this really is set to be an exciting game. Even though I’d be cautious to underestimate the current holders, the Signal Iduna has been a stronghold, particularly in this fixture. I think Die Borussen will run out 2-1 winners.