Last year’s finalist Borussia Dortmund travel to Madrid to face-off against recent archrivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
The German outfit famously ousted Real Madrid from the competition last season in the semi-finals. Robert Lewandowski-led Dortmund blew away Madrid 4-1 in the first leg at home, and then held on to a 0-2 scoreline in Madrid to progress to the final 4-3 on aggregate.
The teams also met in the group stages last year with Dortmund having the upper hand even then. Borussia defeated Madrid 2-1 in the home game, and then drew 2-2 away.
Real Madrid have slipped from first to third in the Spanish La Liga standings after consecutive defeats at the hands of Sevilla and Barcelona. Los Blancos recovered a little over the last weekend and blasted Rayo Vallecano 5-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 44th goal of the season for his team. Ronaldo is also the leading goal-scorer in the Champions League this season with 13 goals in seven matches.
Carlo Ancelotti will be without any fresh injury concerns before this vital match-up. Luka Modric is expected to be back in the starting XI after recovering from an illness.
The away side Borussia Dortmund can best finish second in the German domestic league, after leaders Bayern Munich were crowned champions due to their insurmountable 23-points lead over second placed Dortmund. The away side come into this match having lost two of their last five matches in all competitions.
The away team will sorely miss the presence of talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski, who proved to be Real Madrid’s undoing last year, due to a one-match ban given to him in last round’s meeting against Zenit St. Petersburg. Other absentees for this match include Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marcel Schmelzer, Neven Subotic and Sven Bender.
In this clash of the titans, the balance tilts in favour of the Spanish team with their blistering trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, their desire to avenge the loss last year, and the opportunity to leverage the absence of Lewandowski in the Dortmund line-up.