Borussia Dortmund invite Real Madrid to Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday evening and will be under increased pressure to get three points against the current Champions League holders.
After losing to Spurs in the opening Group H gameweek, Dortmund could fall adrift of the top two spots with a loss, and here’s three battles that could go a long way to deciding how the game pans out…
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Sergio Ramos
It would be very hard to leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of any Dortmund-related article, especially as the Gabonese frontman has scored 11 goals in all competitions this season.
Aubameyang’s battle against Sergio Ramos will be particularly key as the Madrid captain is one of the quickest centre-backs in the world and so may be able to negate the former Saint-Etienne striker’s pace advantage to a certain extent.
Ramos also has a reputation of picking up cards easily, so if Aubameyang can draw a few fouls from the Spanish international early on in the game, the Madrid backline could be put under significant pressure from Dortmund’s pacy attacking trio.
2. Nuri Sahin vs Casemiro
Dortmund’s lightning quick strike force led by Aubameyang may grab all the headlines, but Nuri Sahin’s role of anchoring the midfield will prove crucial on Tuesday night.
Sahin has a passing accuracy of 85.7% this season and will be looking to thread the ball through the backline for rapid wingers Andriy Yarmolenko and Christian Pulisic to run on to.
Casemiro is very much the dark horse of the Madrid side and if the Brazilian ball-winning midfielder is able to cut off Dortmund’s link between midfield and attack then the Yellow Submarines could be looking at two successive losses in Europe.
1. Lukasz Piszczek vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has endured a tough start to the season by his standards, netting just three times and shooting up the infamous list of players with the most shots without scoring in Europe.
Dropped points against Real Betis, Levante and Valencia means that the defending La Liga champions are currently sitting in 5th place and their poor league form could have a detrimental impact on their performance in the Champions League.
Lukasz Piszczek will be coming up against Ronaldo directly in the right-back role, but the Polish defender has been part of a Dortmund side which has conceded just once in six league games, despite a nervy loss against Spurs in the Champions League a few weeks ago.
Ronaldo is the heart of the Madrid attack and his battle against Piszczek will be a crucial one because unless the Portuguese star can inspire a change of fortunes for Madrid, Los Blancos could be looking at more dropped points in an already poor start to the season.