Real Madrid ran out 3-1 winners over Borussia Dortmund in a thrilling encounter at the Westfalenstadion. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one from Gareth Bale were enough to render Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike meaningless as the defending champions kept up their perfect record in this seasons Champions League.
The opening minutes of the match saw Madrid attempting to control the ball in order to quieten the very loud Dortmund supporters. Dortmund tried to counter this by pressing high and playing at a high pace. Madrid ended up giving away the ball too easy on occasions early on and Dortmund came close to opening Madrid after such instances.
On two occasions in the first five minutes, Madrid came very close to being one on one with Burki in the Dormund goal. A long ball to Ronaldo was marginally off target, as was Modric’s attempted pass to Bale. Dortmund were playing a high defensive line in order to close up on Madrid’s midfield, compact the space available to them and stop them controlling the ball.
It did look like Dortmund could pick the ball from Madrid and carve out their own opportunities should they take the ball high up the field. By playing this way however, Dortmund left themselves open to simple balls behind their defence for Ronaldo, Bale, Isco and Carvajal to run onto.
In the ninth minute, Casemiro released Carvajal from deep where the Spanish right back went through on goal, cut back onto his left – had options to his left to pass to both Bale and Ronaldo – Carvajal took on the shot however and was saved by Burki.
Just one minute later, Ronaldo broke through again from one pass in behind the Dortmund defence. Unlike Carvajal, Ronaldo played the ball into the middle, but Piszczek surprisingly beat Gareth Bale to the ball and hooked it away for a corner.
Sergio Ramos was lucky to get away with a handball on the line when Yarmolenko got in behind Madrid’s defence and crossed for Aubamayang. The ball went over the head of the Gabon striker where Max Philipp aimed it back toward goal. Navas got a touch on the ball where Ramos followed up by palming it away when he missed with his foot. The referee signalled for a corner however and took no action against Ramos.
After a crazy opening 17 minutes, Gareth Bale broke the deadlock with an amazing goal. Carvajal played an inch perfect ball chipping it into Gareth Bale’s path, the Welshman moved onto the ball and with immaculate technique, side-footed the ball into the right hand top corner. Ronaldo’s run pulled the two Dortmund centre backs to him which allowed Carvajal to play the ball into space for Bale also.
It wasn’t just Dortmund’s defence that was questionable during the opening stages however. Sergio Ramos or Varane were left isolated against Aubaymeyang on a few occasions. Carvajal was required to cut across the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season with a lunging tackle to prevent him from getting a shot on goal.
On the 24th minute in a game where the tempo couldn’t be higher, following a Dortmund attack breaking down – Modric did a Cruyff turn inside his own box. He then chipped the ball to the edge of his own box to Toni Kroos. The composure the Croatian showed in that moment is a perfect example to what he offers – so much more than quality of play – his mental strength and decision making in difficult times is amazing.
Following this bit of play from Modric, the pace of the game was reduced. Having gone up 1-0, this would have suited Real Madrid much more. They also began to take more control of the ball around midfield in particular. Modric, due to his high level of intelligence, was aware of this during that moment in his own box.
Carvajal was yellow carded on the 38th minute after tugging Max Philipp’s jersey off the ball on a breakaway. In the build up to the free being taken, Modric was also given a yellow card. It was another harsh decision by the referee shortly after giving Bale a yellow for appearing to elbow Sokratis whilst jumping for a header. Modric appeared to be measuring how far back the Madrid defensive wall should be, yet the referee saw it warranting a yellow card. Aubameyang’s follow up free kick was hit off the wall.
Ronaldo was presented with two chances just before half time. Cutting back onto his left after yet another break away, he shot into Toprak’s chest. Less than a minute later, the Portuguese international played a quick one-two inside the box but pulled his shot just wide.
In added time of the first half, Sergio Ramos missed a free header from seven yards out from a corner. Usually, the one player in the world you would want in that situation, the Spain and Real Madrid captain was unable to find the back of the net.
The second half started just as it finished, in frantic attack after attack. Mario Gotze played a ball over the top toward Yarmolenko as he snuck in behind a ball-watching Nacho. The Ukrainian was only able to head the ball goal wards where it was knocked away by the solid Varane.
On the 49th minute the game had it’s second goal. Toni Kroos played a ball into the space beyond Dortmund’s high defence, Gareth Bale ran onto the ball, took it down the line, played it along the ground to Ronaldo who tucked the chance away with ease.
It was really too simple a goal to score for Madrid where Dortmund’s defence was really found wanting. The high and square line against such quality and speed of Gareth Bale was too naïve against this calibre of opposition.
Dortmund got back into the game through Aubameyang on the 53rd minute. A cross played into the box by Castro was met by the Gabon striker. His movement in the build up was superb as he got to the ball ahead of Sergio Ramos. Varane could have reacted to the dangerous ball but it was great instinctive strikers goal by Aubameyang.
Unsurprisingly, substitutions were made. On the 60th minute Dortmund brought on two players where they moved to a back three and it resulted in them taking much more control of the ball and play.
Yarmolenko took on the ball on the left hand side of Madrid’s defence, slipped Castro in but he was unable to control the ball which Navas was happy to take it into his arms. From this play, Gareth Bale took the ball down the left hand side for Madrid and played an inch perfect ball into Luka Modric but that was also saved by Burki.
Dahoud went clear in the Madrid box but was stopped from a sliding tackle from Nacho where he scooped it away from any yellow jersey. From that, Madrid broke down the field with Gareth Bale yet again. The Welshman made claims for a penalty when he went down in the Dortmund box. On replay, Sokratis clearly won the ball with his sliding tackle and Bale’s claims for a penalty were unfounded.
Aubameyang came ever so close to scoring yet again. His movement in the box was giving Ramos and Varane trouble at stages during the match. Another ball played into the box by Castro was just touched the wrong side of the post by Aubameyang where again his change of pace in the box was a concern for Madrid.
After less than 10 minutes without control, Zinedine Zidane tweaked his system which saw Isco move from the right wing into a number 10 role and saw Madrid move to play a diamond in midfield.
A few minutes later, Rafael Varane moved out of defence havng picked up a loose ball. He took on the Dortmund defence by gliding past 4/5 players, slipped in Isco who took on the ball and shot to see Burki make a good save low down on the left hand corner.
Cristiano Ronaldo was able to put away his second on the night on the 78th minute. Varane played a ball out of defence to Modric who moved to the right, played it into Ronaldo’s path where the Balon D’Or holder fizzed it passed Burki in front of ‘The Yellow Wall’.
The action didn’t stop there however as Aubameyang saw a header from a Yarmolenko free kick saved from Keylor Navas on the 83rd minute.
Even though it appeared as cramp, Bale went down with 5 minutes to go in the match and was taken off by Zidane where Lucas Vazquez took his place. After a long time on the sidelines in his time in Madrid, no risks were taken by Zidane.
Facing into added time, only Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos were in the box waiting for a cross to come in from Toni Kroos. The German was able to find Ramos where he unloaded a header by stooping down to head to the right of the Swiss goalkeeper Burki where he was able to get a strong hand to it.
Overall, Real Madrid were deserving of their win. Everytime they got the ball, they looked like they were capable of at least creating a clear chance, if not scoring. Granted Aubameyang looked a threat by Dortmund, but Ramos and Varane dealt with him relatively comfortably. Going forward, Madrid could easily have scored over 10 goals tonight and the 3-1 result doesn’t do them justice. Ronaldo celebrated playing his 400th game for Real Madrid by scoring is 410th and 411th goal for the club. This was also the first time Madrid beat Dortmund away having drawn 3 and lost 3 from the 6 previous games. Tonight was also the first time Dortmund lost at home since losing to Monaco in the Champions League in April.
For Dortmund, only 2 teams in Champions League group stage history have qualified after being 6 points adrift after 2 games. This is the situation they find themselves in at the moment and will need to vastly improve if they are to progress to the next round.
Starting Line Ups:
Dortmund: Burki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan; Sahin, Castro, Gotze; Yarmolenko, Philipp, Aubameyang
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco; Bale, Ronaldo