With tonight’s crunch game edging ever closer, lets talk about the team news.
Wait a minute…we don’t have to do that for Real Madrid?
That’s because eccentric/genius/legendary/crazy (delete as appropriate) head coach Jose Mourinho, took the unorthodox step of announcing almost all of Madrid’s starting lineup, the day before the game….
So here it is, thanks to Spanish newspaper Marca. Lopez in goal, a back four from right to left of Ramos, Pepe, Varane and Coentrao, two holding midfielders in Xabi and Khedira and an attacking trio of Özil, Ronaldo and Higuaín.
The only player Mourinho was unsure of was Angel Di María, who became a father yesterday and may miss the tie. But apart from that, Borussia Dortmund know exactly who they’re up against. Mind games from Mourinho? Perhaps. But the biggest notable omission is captain Iker Casillas in goal. After falling out of favor and then getting injured, Casillas finds himself on the bench for the biggest game of the season. And listen to this remarkable stat, out of 24 games away to German opposition, Real Madrid have won once, lost 17 and drawn six times. History is not on their side.
Also, let’s not forget, Real and Dortmund have already squared off twice in the group stages of this seasons UCL. Dortmund beat Madrid 2-1 at the Westfalenstadion, and were leading by the same score line in the return game at the Santiago Bernabeu, until Mezut Ozil equalized in the last minute to grab a point for Madrid. So Dortmund are the favorites then, right? Not so much. This is a different Real team than they one they faced earlier in the season.
Even though Dortmund impressively won the ‘group of death’ ahead of Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax, they won’t go into this clash with the Spanish giants as the top dogs. The pedigree of Real’s attacking talents will be sending shivers down the spine of Dortmund’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, as we speak.
Yes, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze are also capable of similarly breathtaking moments of magic, but can they match Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín, Ozil and Di María blow for blow? No. Expect to see a fired up Madrid come racing out of the traps in the heart of industrial Germany this afternoon.
And what with yesterday’s revelation that Dortmund’s star player, Götze, will be joining Bayern Munich in the summer, Dortmund’s players may be distracted tonight as fans mourn the loss of one of the clubs greatest young talents. The news of Götze’s imminent departure on the eve of their huge UCL semifinal didn’t please Dortmund. But Mourinho isn’t getting involved. “I don’t know Götze, and I don’t know the mentality or the culture of the Dortmund fans, and I don’t know what his teammates are thinking.”
Mourinho playing mind games, not a chance. Wait a minute…