Mesut Özil's perfectly taken free kick salvages the draw for Madrid in a hard-fought game against an excellent Dortmund.
The First Half – The Defence And Casillas Found Out As Madrid Score An Own Goal
If Borussia Dortmund were even slightly impressed by their surroundings it didn’t show past the first 10 minutes. Madrid dominated in those first minutes, but throughout the first half were to be found out for lack of discipline and control in the centre of the park.
Luka Modrić showed he is no replacement for Sami Khedira in the centre of the park – lacking the presence, flexibility and physicality of the injured German. The majority of the game was straight through the middle in a very vertical formation from both teams. Madrid were particularly weak on the wings, with di Maria almost completely anonymous, and Cristiano Ronaldo inexplicably positioning himself centrally for large portions of the first half in an already crowded centre.
In the first half Madrid were also in the unusual position of being vulnerable to counter-attacks when pressing forward or taking corners or free kicks – a reversal of the team’s usual position. Generally speaking, it is other teams that are vulnerable at moments when they should be in better control of the game against Madrid.
Dortmund opened the scoring and their first goal involved a quick break, a pass from Robert Lewandowski to Wunderkind Markos Reus, and poor defending from Álvaro Arbeloa. Iker Casillas, who should have done better, was also beaten at the near post.
Madrid’s first equalizer came off Pepe a few minutes later off a perfect cross from Mesut Ozil in the aftermath of one of Madrid's corner kicks. Pepe is a stadium favourite and the crowd at the Bernabeu exploded and chanted his name.
A few minutes later, Mario Goetze’s effort got Dortmund’s second goal, again off a Lewandowski pass – and once again off poor defensive work for Arbeloa. Ultimately the goal was credited as an own-goal for the defender.
Other notes for the first half: Higuaín was poor heading the line; nearly anonymous and spent most of the first half hobbling on an injured hamstring. In hindsight it may have been better to have taken him off earlier as soon as the injury hit. As it is he was removed at half-time. Modrić, Madrid’s poorest midfield player of the first half, was removed for Michael Essien for greater midfield control.
The Second Half – Özil's Free Kick Salvages A Point For Madrid
With no strikers, Cristiano Ronaldo was moved inside and Callejon provided some necessary spark to the attack. A less crowded centre meant that Özil began to have a greater influence. Within one minute of the kick-off Callejon's goal was called offside – a decision that looks as though it may have been incorrect. Within 4 minutes Callejon had another shot that narrowly missed the target. Essien, who provided greater control and calm in the centre of the midfield, provided a better and secure platform for attacks from Madrid's front line and was helpful in defence making two useful clearances.
With a more controlled midfield, Ronaldo also began to have a greater impact on the game as Madrid went for simple tactics – straight through the centre. For all their dominance Madrid’s finishing was unfortunate however, and Dortmund's defence held.
With 15 minutes to go, Kaka came on for Arbeloa as Madrid went for the win. Even with three at the back, Madrid continued to dominate, with Essien in particular putting in a good shift. One ball was cleared off the line. Weidenfeller made 2 excellent saves in the final 10 minutes.
With a single minute of extra time Mesut Özil, arguably the outstanding Real Madrid player of the two games against Dortmund, and with a hand in every goal scored against them in these group stages, lined up next to Cristiano Ronaldo and unexpectedly took the free kick awarded the team from the right side of the pitch. The ball dipped and curled into the back of the net.
Madrid suffered from the apparent ham-string injury to Higuaín early in the game and needed the security provided by Essien and the spark provided by Jose Callejon after a shaky and open first half. Di Maria and Ronaldo were unexpectedly poor and effectively marked out of the game for long periods of the match. Madrid were better in the second half; Dortmund were better in the first.
Dortmund, still an inexperienced team, were outstanding in their pressing, defending, work-rate and precision. Yet again, this game showed that stats don’t matter. Madrid had 60% possession, completed 80% of their passes and had 11 shots on target to Dortmund’s 6. Ultimately however, there was nothing to choose between the teams on the night. Madrid were superior for longer periods of the match, but Dortmund struck when it counted and will be thrilled with their performance over two games.
Final score: Madrid 2 Dortmund 2.
Who Was Madrid's Best Player?
Mesut Ozil (132 votes)
Michael Essien (18 votes)
Pepe (5 votes)
Other (10 votes)
165 total votes