By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Not even the combined force of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho has been able to end Real Madrid’s miserable form in Germany. The Spanish side’s ‘curse’ continued on Wednesday night as they went down 2-1 to a determined Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion. And Real’s record in the country makes for rather rough reading now for the Spanish giants’ supporters.
Madrid have played 24 official games on German soil and have emerged victorious only once. Even that was 12 years ago, against Bayer Leverkusen back in 2000. And despite their improvement under Mourinho, they have now lost two out of two in Germany since the arrival of the Portuguese coach in 2010.
The first of those came last season, in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Then, Madrid succumbed to a late, late goal from Mario Gomez and were unable to turn the tie around in the second leg, ultimately they lost out on penalties to the Bavarian side.
This time was similar. Up against a Dortmund team cheered enthusiastically by their frenzied fans in one of Europe’s most atmospheric arenas, the German side grabbed the initiative – and they took the lead too when Pepe’s dreadful pass allowed Sebastian Kehl to intercept and Robert Lewandowski to finish on a quick break.
That was on 35 minutes but at the other end, Madrid hit back almost straight away as Neven Subotic failed to track Ronaldo and the Portuguese beat a static Roman Weidenfeller with a lovely lob to make it 1-1, having latched on to a pass from Mesut Ozil.
Early in the game and with the scores still level, Ozil should have given Madrid the advantage – and Ronaldo his first assist of the season – but failed to capitalise on excellent work from the Portuguese when it had looked easier to score at the far post.
With one of their Germans misfiring and the other, Sami Khedira, withdrawn through injury, it had looked as if Madrid’s Deutschland disappointments would go on.
Ronaldo, though, had never lost a game in the Champions League after having scored. The Portuguese was heavily involved for much of the evening but his team-mates were often not up to his high standards and Madrid found themselves pressed back in the second half. In the end, they buckled.
Iker Casillas made a number of stunning saves, but the Real captain was unable to get enough distance on a punch and Borussia left-back Marcel Schmelzer volleyed into the corner as Pepe almost appeared to jump over the ball and allow it past him on its way to the net. It was a mistake by the Spain goalkeeper and a forgettable night for the Portugal defender.
Madrid huffed and puffed in the last few minutes and came close through Angel Di Maria and Michael Essien, who looked anything but a solution at left-back in this match. Mourinho’s men should still make it to the next round, but the defeat will cause concern at the Santiago Bernabeu, regardless of the coach’s claims afterwards: “It is not dramatic,” the 49-year-old said. However, he knows only too well that a repeat in the knockout stages will be, just like last season. For now, the ‘curse’ continues.
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