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Immediate Reactions: Dortmund 2-2 Real Madrid

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Wasted opportunity.

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League
Ronaldo was elated to be back amongst the goals
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images
  1. Real Madrid came to the Signa Iduna Park with a clear game-plan: to absorb Dortmund’s pressure and hit back with ferocious counter attacks. Without Casemiro anchoring the midfield, the opening sequences of play were dominated by the home side, who looked to cut open Madrid through the middle of the park, and Madrid may have been a bit lucky not to concede. However, true to Zidane’s game-plan, Madrid hit on a lethal counter attack and Ronaldo capped a brilliant bit of play and scored off a Bale back-heel assist.
  2. Dortmund responded to the goal well, and continued to fashion chances, and Madrid were unable to disposes the Germans in the middle of the field. However, Madrid tightened up and with the help of a few last ditch challenges, almost got the half time with their 1-0 lead intact. Yet, as has become commonplace over the last couple weeks, Madrid conceded a goal of an error and made the game much more challenging for themselves. Keylor Navas, in his first game back since the Champions League Final last Spring, made a string of strange decisions to punch the ball instead of catching it, and Madrid were burned when the rebound created by his punch on a Raphaël Guerreiro free-kick was fortuitously redirected home by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
  3. Borussia Dortmund opened the second half as the aggressor, as Ousmane Dembélé continued to open up the Madrid defense, forcing a good save from Keylor Navas. Madrid perhaps should’ve scored in the 60th minute when Sergio Ramos delivered a delicious ball to Ronaldo, who just didn’t get enough hair gel on it and missed his chance for his second goal of the match. Just after that great chance, Madrid produced another golden opportunity with Bale laying off a great ball to Benzema to finish a counter attack, but again the final product was missing.
  4. Madrid grew into the game as the second half progressed and scored in the 67th minute when Ronaldo delivered an absolutely magnificent ball to the back post, which Benzema smashed against the post- luckily Varane was there to clean up the mess and give Madrid a crucial lead. Dortmund nearly got one right back after the Madrid goal, but Keylor Navas made up for his earlier gaffe and produced a brilliant save to keep Madrid’s lead intact. Madrid continued to stay in the ascendancy until about the 80th minute when Dortmund began to create several chances- and unsurprisingly a poor Madrid clearance gave way to a brilliant strike by Andre Schurrle which allowed Dortmund to draw level.
  5. Upon initial review, this was an extremely exciting match. Real Madrid seemed to get their tactics right on, and were on their way to taking the three points. While they certainly did not boss proceedings, and were arguably the second best team for most of the match, they absolutely created the better opportunities and showed their class as the holders of this tournament. However, for the third time in as many matches, Madrid simply could not hold on and let their chance get way from them. This game points again to an alarming pattern where Madrid play to the level of their competition- no matter whether it is above them or below them- and fail to string together a full performance that is required to win matches a the top level. There aren’t too many fingers to point here, and make no mistake Madrid definitely created enough chances to win, but were again the architects of their own demise.