It has honestly been hard to find analysis of Real Madrid and comments from the players, as most accounts are filled glowing tributes to the past few days of definitive Deutschland dominance of the European stage with writers penning poetic paeans to Robert Lewandowski, Mario Goetze and Thomas Muller and spending scant few words on the battered carcasses of Madrid and Barca.
In his excellent, insightful breakdown of the match, Miguel Delaney focuses on the incredible fitness and youthful pace displayed by the Bumblebee Buzzsaw at this point in the season, writing:
"Die Schwarzgelben played at such a pace that it can only really be caught in snapshots.One of those came in the 55th minute. As Robert Lewandowski dragged the ball across the Real box, the manner in which Pepe desperately tried to lunge at him but still couldn't get any closer made the exemplary moment of skill look all the more electric and elusive. In contrast to Pepe's desperation, the Pole was effortless as he turned himself into position to power the ball into the roof of the net."
Delaney then shifts to tactics and makes an interesting point about the chess match between Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, noting that:
"In the run-up to this game, much of the buildup had revolved around whether Mourinho would learn from the lesson the Germans dished out in the group stage game between the two sides. If he did, Klopp rendered it irrelevant as he gave Real an array of new problems to figure out. That was evident as early as the fifth minute. In that 2-1 win in October, the majority of Dortmund's most productive attacks came down Real's left. Here, the cross that produced Lewandowski's opening goal came from the right."
Mourinho essentially confirmed many of Delaney's observations after the match, saying:
"We know everything about them and everything about [Robert] Lewandowski, but we lost him for three of his goals, which is not good enough...They were the better side by far, they won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally. The game went from 1-1 to 4-1 in such a short space of time...we lost possession easily and couldn't cope with their transitions and speed on the break."
Ace Dortmund defender Neven Subotic spoke of pressure and possession, the key themes of yesterday's match, emphasizing to Sky Sports that:
"As soon as we lost the ball we put pressure on them and they are not used to it - in the Spanish league they get a lot of respect but we just limited the time they had without pressure, we were right in there and that was key."
Subotic underlined the tactical importance Dortmund placed on not letting Madrid settle on the ball, saying:
"I think, the second balls were decisive, in the midfield we were winning our battles"
Despite boasting a decorated, talent laden midfield--it continues to be the area that costs Real Madrid, particularly in the upper echelons of the Champions League tournament, as Bayern and now Dortmund's midfield units have stifled and stung them thus far the past two springs.
Subotic made another remark that illuminates the gulf between these two teams when he spoke of the unyielding, damn-near messianic faith Dortmund place in their manager:
"He has a game plan, and the game plan worked and we are confident in it - his word is God, he says it and we believe it and that is how this team was formed and why were are able to be successful."
No matter what is and isn't true from the endless stream of rumors of strife between Mourinho and members of the squad--there seems to be no doubt that the players don't view him or his tactics in the same manner that the Dortmund players view Klopp, which is an extremely significant factor currently separating these two teams.
I keep telling myself that Real at least gave themselves an away goal lifeline that makes the tie salvageable and it looks like I'm not alone as that was the mantra from the players after the match.
Pepe, mindful of a subpar individual performance, vowed that the team would battle fiercely for a birth in the finals, telling Realmadrid.com:
"We can turn the tie around, its three goals and the comeback is possible. We will try to not make the same mistakes and we will fight every minute as if it were the last to make that comeback possible. We have to play for the honour of the Real Madrid shirt and give our best"
Diego Lopez invoked the passion and spirit of the Bernabeu faithful, saying:
"Now we have to think about the second leg. This match is already forgotten about. In the heads of everyone to do with Real Madrid is the Bernabeu on Tuesday. All for one. Historically there have been miraculous comebacks and some have happened in the Bernabeu. With the faith and spirit of the Real Madrid supporters, and everything that this club entails, we can do it"
Xabi Alonso and Raphael Varane also emphasized the importance of the home supporters ahead of the return tie next Tuesday. Varane offered further comment on yesterday's disappointment, noting that Dortmund:
"played well and were compact and aggressive. We had no spaces between the lines and that hampered our game. We cannot be happy after this match, because we did not play well as a team. We can improve on everything in the second leg"
Do you think it's possible, Madridistas? Do we dare dream?