Borussia Dortmund will aim to maintain their unbeaten record at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s 150th European appearance.
Dortmund and title holders Real meet in the group stage for the second year running and here are three key battles ahead of the game.
All eyes, as always, will be on Cristiano Ronaldo as the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer attempts to end his ‘barren run’ of two games – a lifetime by his standards.
The Portuguese star will be even more hungry than usual, if that’s possible, to get his name on the scoresheet, and he will be faced by a familiar foe in the form of Marc Bartra, who started his career at Barcelona.
Bartra reads the game well and has the pace to limit Ronaldo’s shooting opportunities, but he is prone to occasional errors by over-playing – and Ronaldo will be ready to pounce.
Exciting Dortmund frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has long been linked with a move to Madrid as a potential replacement for Karim Benzema, especially after the Gabon international registered a goal and an assist when the teams drew in Madrid last year.
Although skipper Sergio Ramos will also obviously have an important role, the man best equipped to handle Aubameyang is Raphael Varane, who can use his pace and anticipation to limit the impact of a striker who comes into the game in great form and full of confidence, scoring a hat-trick in Saturday’s league win against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Another player Dortmund player subjected to speculation over a move to Madrid is young midfielder Julian Weigl, whose composed passing skills and strong defensive instincts have earned comparisons with Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets.
Tonight, Weigl’s key defensive task will be closing down the space available to Isco, who provides the link between Madrid’s midfield and attack. Isco will also often drift wide and Weigl will then turn his attentions to the darting runs of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, as well as Ronaldo dropping deep.
If Weigl succeeds in providing a shield for his back four, his team’s chances will increase significantly.
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