Wednesday 2nd April
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund
Wednesday’s quarterfinal sees Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund reunited once again for the chance to play in the Semis. These two sides faced one another four times in last year’s competition, with German side prevailing in a thrilling semi-final, although their Spanish rivals will be hoping they can turn the tables on this occasion.
How they got here
Los Blancos (The Whites) have been immense in this year’s Champions League and have yet to lose a game. They breezed through the group stage dropping only two points in a 2-2 draw with Juventus to top the group on 16-points. In the round of 16 they brushed German team Schalke aside winning both legs with an aggregate score of 9-2.
Last year’s runners-up have not been quite as good as they were last year, but have still managed to progress to the quarters. They just about squeezed out of their group topping Group F level on 12 points with Arsenal and Napoli. In the round of 16 they faced a tough Zenit side and managed to edge past them 5-4 over two scintillating games.
The Portuguese international has been in sensational form this season and was deservedly crowned the world’s best player earlier in the year. Ronaldo has scored a whopping 44 goals in 40 games this season for Real, including 13 in 7 Champions League matches.
With star player Robert Lewandowski suspended Dortmund will be looking for Reus to give them some cutting edge. The German international had a terrific first season at Dortmund last year, scoring 19 goals. He has pushed on this season and already has 17 goals, including 3 in the Champions League. Quick, strong and good at dribbling, Reus will be Dortmund’s danger man.
These two sides have met eight times in European competitions with Real Madrid edging the encounters with 3 wins to Dortmund’s 2, and 3 draws. However, the Germans prevailed during their last meeting in last year’s semi-final. Lewandowski scored all four goals – a European Cup semi-final first – in the 1st leg to give Dortmund a 4-1 lead in Germany. But late goals from Karim Benzema (83) and Sergio Ramos (88) set up a frenzied finish to the second leg, though Dortmund held on to progress to the final.
Dortmund had this game more or less wrapped up after the first leg in last year’s semi-final, as Madrid struggled to come to terms with their high-tempo and pressing game.
However, Los Blancos have moved-up a gear in the attacking department with the acquisition of Gareth Bale this season and are many people’s favorites for this year’s title.
Dortmund are struggling with defender Neven Subotić, midfielders Sven Bender, İlkay Gündoğan and Jakub Błaszczykowski all out injured. While star player Robert Lewandowski misses out through suspension.
Real Madrid’s only fresh injury concern is left back Marcelo who misses out with a thigh strain, with Fábio Coentrão likely to deputize.
Dortmund are known for their high-tempo and high-pressing game, but with Madrid possessing so much explosive speed upfront, I expect Dortmund to sit deep, try and keep the game tight, and hit on the counter. However, I doubt they have the ability to keep Marid’s BBC (Benzema, Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo) trio at bay and I expect Madrid to win.
PSG v Chelsea
Jose Mourinho faces the side who were his first Champions League opponents as Chelsea Manager and will hoping for the same result that he earned in 2004. However, the Parisian outfit have been transformed in the last few years with huge investment from new owners the Qatar Investment Fund, and are now many people’s dark horses for this year’s tournament.
How they got here
The Ligue 1 champions topped Group C with 13 points, losing and drawing only once. In the Round of 16 they faced German side Bayer Leverkusen and easily dispatched of them, winning the first leg 4-0 away in Germany before securing a 2-1 victory in Paris.
Chelsea struggled during the group phase losing twice, but still managed to top their group on 12-points to progress to the next round. In the round of 16 they faced Turkish champions Galatasaray and progressed relatively comfortably drawing the first leg 1-1 in Turkey before winning 2-0 in London.
The maverick striker was made PSG captain this season by new coach Laurent Blanc and has been in spectacular form thriving under the extra pressure. Imbrahimovic has scored 40 goals in 42 games for PSG, including 10 goals in only 7 Champions League games.
“The little pony” has been linked with a big money move to PSG following a terrific season in the EPL. The 23-year-old is Chelsea’s top scorer this season with 16 goals, but it is his dribbling, speed, power and passing that have really caught the eye and when Chelsea play well it is usually because of this young man.
These two sides have only met twice before, which was during the 2004/2005 group stages of the Champions League. The first game in Paris was actually Jose Mourinho’s first European game as Chelsea manager and the Blues were 3-0 victors. The second game in London finished in a 0-0 draw.
A few eyebrows were raised when Laurent Blanc was appointed to replace the outgoing Carlos Ancelotti. Blanc was reportedly the club’s eighth choice to replace Ancelotti, but has transformed the side from a counter-attacking unit into a possession obsessed and attacking side.
Chelsea have progressively improved throughout this season and remain a well organized and tough team to play against. However, they still lack cutting edge up top and may find it hard to breakdown the bigger teams.
I expect PSG to push hard and try to earn a good result to take to London with them. Chelsea will sit back make things tight and hope to steal an away goal on the counter, however, whether or not they can shut out the deadly duo of Imbrahimovic and Cavanni remains to be seen.