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Broussia Dortmund v. Real Madrid: Quick Thoughts

By Marc Serber



Dortmund's head coach Juergen Klopp reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg football match Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid on April 24, 2013 in Dortmund, western Germany
Dortmund's head coach Juergen Klopp reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg football match Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid on April 24, 2013 in Dortmund, western Germany

Robert Lewandowski:

You can’t write anything about this game without giving Lewandowski the plaudits he deserves. It’s one thing to join the exclusive club of players who have scored four goals in a UEFA Champions League match (he is the 9th player to do it under the current format), but the fashion in which the Polish striker ruthlessly destroyed Los Blancos displayed the qualities of an all around forward.

His first goal was a poachers goal. Putting himself in the right position before attacking at the exact moment to slide in Mario Gotze’s delicious cross.

The second goal was all about subtly as Lewandowski held his line before settling and sliding the ball beyond Diego Lopez with a deft flick of the right boot.

The third displayed his skill in tight spaces with a graceful turn before unleashing a ferocious shot into the upper corner. 

The coup de grace was of course a penalty, but it was taken with all the confidence in the world. Not to mention, plenty of venom behind the shot as well. 

Real Madrid over reliant on CR7:

Yes, I know that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world. Yet, with the quality of players around each of them, it seems a bit strange to me that Barcelona and Real Madrid are so incredibly over reliant on their two stars. 

Ronaldo was isolated on the right and yet every attacking ball was played in his direction. Once Ronaldo did get the ball, he had four Dortmund jerseys surrounding him and hardly any support from his teammates. 

The goal Ronaldo did score was gifted to him by Mats Hummels. Otherwise, Ronaldo really had no options. Had the flow of play shifted away from him every so often, surely that would have opened the field for Madrid. As the home team would have had to worry about multiple alternatives it could have created the space CR7 needed on the occasions that the ball did find its way back to his feet.   

The final ball let Real Madrid down:

At times, it seemed that Dortmund were content to let Madrid have the ball on the wings and serve it into the box where the home side was confident that Hummels and Neven Subotic would sweep away the danger. 

On more than one occasion (including a few free kicks by Xabi Alonso) the Dortmund defense didn’t have to worry as the crosses were often overhit or served way too deep. This meant that Real Madrid didn’t take advantage of the one avenue Dortmund were willing to concede. The final ball often went begging, with Ronaldo and company well positioned. 

Spacing:

Even though Real Madrid has always been a counter-attacking team, it seemed like there was hardly any support for the player with the ball. Ronaldo has already been discussed, but he wasn’t the only white jersey isolated with the ball at his feet. 

Going forward, Die Schwarzgelben (The Black and Yellows) showed Los Blancos how to do it. Even though the object of a counter is to get the ball upfield in as few passes as possible, BVB had players in support to play out of tight spaces and continue its rampage rather than have their moves break down in midfield. 

Klopp outmaneuvers Mourinho: 

According to World Soccer’s Keir Radnedge, Jurgen Klopp defined himself as the “Robin Hood” of the Champions League. Certainly in this case, Robin Hood stole from the rich (literally look at Real Madrid’s wage bill compared to Dortmund’s) as he outwitted the “Special One” on the tactical board. 

FourFourTwo Stat Zone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=0kfQd perfectly illustrates how Dortmund preferred to attack the flanks rather than the central areas. 

Attacking wide meant keeping Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao from venturing forward as well staying away from the double pivot of Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso in the middle. This also meant that Alonso couldn’t break up plays and start counter attacks in his trademark fashion.

Without the ball, Dortmund’s high press left Real Madrid with little options as even Jose Mourinho conceded to Sky Sports, “On every individual battle on the pitch they were stronger than us, they were more aggressive physically, they were more aggressive mentally so I think they deserve [to win]... We couldn’t cope with their counter attack and with their transition.”