clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 3 - 2 Borussia Dortmund

Varane leaves injured, Real Madrid’s defense remains shaky, and Cristiano Ronaldo makes history

Real Madrid round out the group stages with a 3-2 win over Dortmund (Mayoral, Ronaldo, Vazquez; Aubamayeng x2). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, takeaways, and tactical review.

Borussia Dortmund under Peter Bosz this season have been atrocious. We know this. We even saw up-close how lethargic and open they were in the first 20 minutes of this match where Real Madrid looked comfortable in possession, and Cristiano Ronaldo looked fantastic:

Yet, somehow, those opening 20 minutes, in which Ronaldo made history, were the best the team would play all match — apart from a nice attacking spell towards the end of the game. Dortmund, as down-and-out as they were, grew into the game. Pulisic and Kagawa started finding vertical passing lanes through Real Madrid’s loose defense, and Raphael Varane, as he’s done so much this season, was instrumental in snuffing out the chances at the end of the build-up. His injury, is, um, very worrying given his form and the already lack of defensive options heading into the match against Sevilla.

Real Madrid conceded their first goal shortly after Varane came off for Marco Asensio (more on this sub in the the notes below). Mateo Kovacic gave the ball away deep, which, to be sure, is a harsh accusation, given that Lucas Vazquez / Marco Asensio should’ve communicated and come to meet the pass. By the time Dortmund won possession and Schmelzer swung his cross in, Aubamayeng already had a head start on Sergio Ramos.

Shortly after the second half started, Real Madrid conceded again -- a loose ball found an embarrassingly open Aubamayeng, whose control let him down, but ultimately recovered and chipped the ball over Keylor Navas.

The ensuing spell from Real Madrid was great, though. It was upbeat, dynamic, and gave us a preview of what can happen with a packed midfield and the dose of creativity of Ceballos and Asensio together. There were examples of using the flanks that can work efficiently if it’s coupled with flair and unpredictability. The quality of the crosses could’ve been better, but it was also a much more dangerous attack than we’ve seen in past games. At the end of the day, Dortmund weren’t that hard to break down.

Some bullet points from Kiyan’s notepad:

  • Not that Theo was other-worldly tonight (he did have some heavy touches), but I liked his presence in this game. The most important note here is that it’s clear he’s a left back and not a left winger. His pace / strength / bowling-ball-like-nature is a great asset to have as an overlap. Keep him there, Zidane.
  • Praying that Varane is fine.
  • Dani Ceballos’s first touch of the game was a poor giveaway, but he recovered after that and had some really nice touches throughout. He’ll come good if he’s given time.
  • Real Madrid’s defense, and overall mental-lapses with the ball cost them today in a way that won’t affect the season. But, as we’ve been saying weekly: These miscues need to be gutted soon.
  • Isco was very conducive to the team’s flow offensively. He was decisive and incisive.
  • I didn’t mind the Asensio for Varane sub as some others did. I wouldn’t have started Lucas myself (he did have a good second half, for what it’s worth), but I did like the idea of squeezing Asensio in as your first sub to get him into match rhythm following his injury.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid