Sometimes, the other team is just better
Sometimes, you just have to accept that your opponent was better than you. That this opponent mercilessly uses your mistakes and shows efficiency and strength in situations when you lack these attributes. Borussia Dortmund made this experience on Wednesday in their Champions League match up at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The 3-0 (2-0) defeat was a fair result because Real Madrid was this better opponent and even though the performance in black and yellow was not as bad as it was made by the media one day later, you could see that both teams had changed in comparison to last year. Real Madrid clearly improved and the personal worries of Borussia were too hard to overcome so that it will be a tough challenge to advance to the semi finals in the second leg next week.
Before the match
Just like over the last weeks, Borussia missed Schmelzer, Subotic, Gündogan, Bender and Kuba so that five players who competed in the Champions League Final of last year were no option for coach Jürgen Klopp due to injuries. Robert Lewandowski joined the quinted because he got booked for the third time against St. Petersburg. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took his place in the starting line-up and played as a striker for the first time this season while the offensive midfield line consisted of Reus, Mkhitaryan and Großkreutz. Real Madrid lost Di Maria at short notice, the defensive midfielder was replaced by Isco. Real was seeking revenge for the defeats of last year, when Borussia beat them in Westfalenstadion during the group stage and threw Madrid out of the competition in the semi finals after a 4-1 victory at home and a 0-2 loss away in Madrid. Just like last year, Borussia was the underdog against the white ensemble which came with the fabulous offensive line of Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema. Sounds like quality, huh? Well, unfortunately for Borussia, it really is quality.
The plan for Borussia surely would have been not to let Madrid play, to show defensive strength and some pressing and then attack on their own with quick counter-attacks. Unfortunately, the defense lost control after only three minutes when Benzema and Carvajal were left with too much space and the latter player was able to play the ball into the box from the right side of the pitch. Gareth Bale, the 100 million euro player, had too much space as well and was not attacked efficiently and Roman Weidenfeller who quickly stormed out of his goal could not save the ball anymore because Bale was able to get it past the Dortmund goalkeeper. The early lead for Real Madrid was a cold start for Borussia and the result of poor defending against an offense who eagerly awaits mistake and always is ready to use them. Borussia needed some time to get into the match and Madrid kept on attacking so that the lead nearly was doubled after twelve minutes when Ronaldo shot one of his famous free kicks. Three minutes later, a corner kick nearly brought another goal for Spanish team but Weidenfeller and Reus were able to save the ball at the cost of a minor injury for Weidenfeller who definitely was in pain the following minutes but was able to continue for the remaining time of the match. And just during the period of time when Borussia found into the match for a few minutes and the first minor chances for Aubameyang (with a bicycle kick) and Sahin (with a long shot) were created, Real Madrid scored once again. This time, it was because of an inconsequent clearing by Mkhitaryan (on a terrible day) who had problems controlling a save by Erik Durm. Isco got the ball from the Armenian and doubled the lead with a nice shot from the edge of the box (27th). At this point in time, it looked like Borussia will get trouble preventing a high defeat. Hope, however, could be gained by the good performance of Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller who kept Borussia into the match various times and a first promising counter attack over Kevin Großkreutz shortly before the half time whistle. Real Madrid was the better team who got into the break with a deserved lead and Borussia could be happy that it was only 2-0 and hope for a second half with a possible away goal and no more goals to be conceded.
The second half of the game started with a showing of the strength of Borussia Dortmund. For the first time, the ball was won in the midfield and Reus and Aubameyang directly switched to offensive mode, creating a great counter attack at the end of which Aubameyang missed the goal by one meter or so – this definitely was a wasted chance. Normally, you don't get too many chances at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, but if you get one, you have to use it. Borussia didn't in this situation (49h) and Mkhitaryan's shot in minute 56 was blocked at the cost of a corner attack after another quick attempt of Borussia. In these situations, you could see that with Borussia making few mistakes and concentrating on its strength, something could have been gained in Madrid. However, it was not the day of the black and yellows and therefore, another terrible mistake by Piszczek was enough for Real to make it 3-0. Modric, Ronaldo, a great trick by the Portuguese Player of the Year to beat Weidenfeller and the third goal after bad defending during this match was conceded (57th). However, Borussia never stepped up and tried to score a maybe important away goal, but Mkhitaryan and Reus were unlucky in their last attempts. Probably Borussia could have continued to play for another hour or so but would not have scored eventually. Sometimes, the other team is the better one and the defeat a fair one. This was the case in Madrid. No shame needed, Borussia showed passion, motivation and lust, but it was not enough against a very good opponent. It just can happen.
Let's be honest: Dortmund needs a miracle next Tuesday and at least three goals. But Robert Lewandowski has scored four goals the last time Dortmund met Madrid in Westfalenstadion. However, those were different times so that even though it will not be impossible to beat Real Madrid on Tuesday, it will be very very difficult. Like stated before, this is not the Real Madrid that was beaten by Dortmund last year, but a really improved one who used nearly everyone of the mistakes the guys in black and yellow made and therefore were the supreme victory on Wednesday. Nobody needs to be ashamed for his performance, but it was just not enough to make it to the final four. Maybe, this will change on Tuesday, maybe not. It won't be the most important match of the club history and there are several worse things than going out of the Champions League than by being defeated by Real Madrid. Saturday is another important match in Bundesliga. Let's focus on VfL Wolfsburg first and then continue to dream about beating Real. Heja BVB!
Real Madrid: Casillas – Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao – Modric, Xabi Alonso, Isco – Bale, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
Subs: Illaramendi for Isco (71st), Morata for Benzema (75th), Casemiro for Ronaldo (80th)
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Durm – Kehl, Sahin – Reus, Mkhitaryan, Großkreutz – Aubameyang
Subs: Hofmann for Mkhitaryan (64th), Schieber for Piszczek (67th), Jojic for Kehl (74th)
Goals: 1-0 Bale (3rd), 2-0 Isco (27th), 3-0 Ronaldo (57th)
Referee: Clattenburg (England)
Bookings: Reus, Kehl, Großkreutz
Attendance: approximately 73.000 (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu)