We all know the story by now. Last year, Borussia Dortmund eliminated Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Champions League after thumping Los Blancos in Germany but almost relinquishing their lead as Madrid launched a heroic comeback attempt at the Bernabéu. Now, a Borussia Dortmund side that has lost a staggering seven players from their 2013 starting eleven due to transfers and injuries returns to trouble Real Madrid once more.
Jurgen Klopp still views his team as underdogs, saying:
"Madrid are favourites but they've also had their problems this season, although they're better now with [Gareth] Bale and with [Ángel] Di María showing all their quality. We are used to not being favourites and becoming uncomfortable opponents. Nobody should leave us spaces because we can be very dangerous."
Ancelotti should heed Klopp's warning. Dortmund remains a frightening team in transition thanks to speedsters like Marco Reus and Pierre Aubameyang gunning down the wings, though one of these players may feature as a striker to replace a suspended Robert Lewandowski. Considering Madrid's midfield has been exposed by top teams recently, it will be critical to tighten up the defense to prevent Dortmund's fiery attackers from executing a lethal counterattack. Carletto knows this and will seek the elusive "balance" that he so frequently mentions in his press conferences.
The Eyebrow has called up the following players for the encounter:
Goalies: Casillas, Diego López and Jesús.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrão, Carvajal and Nacho.
Midfielders: Bale, Xabi Alonso, Casemiro, Modric, Di María, Isco and Illarra.
Forwards: Morata, Benzema y Cristiano Ronaldo.
The line-up should be relatively predictable with Coentrão slotting at left back for an injured Marcelo and Iker Casillas donning his gloves for another Champions League tie. It will be interesting to see whether Carletto gives Xabi Alonso any reprieve considering the Red Beard's age and tiredness. Personally, I don't see it happening as Alonso remains one of Ancelotti's most trusted players and is nearing the status of "untouchable" for Mr. Ancelotti.
On another note, Real Madrid's explosive young right back Dani Carvajal conceded an interview to UEFA that is definitely worth a look. The Real Madrid product talks about his move to Germany and the joy he felt at returning to Madrid to don the white shirt as a fully-fledged first team player. Carvajal will feature tomorrow as Alvaro Arbeloa continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund: Wednesday, April 2nd at 20:45 CET/ 2:45 PM EST/ 11:45 AM PST