Granted, Real Madrid aren’t really at their best. They missed Casemiro deeply, and Danilo is a far less world-class replacement for Marcelo. But still, it’s Real Madrid. No matter what team they field, it’s no small feat even tying them (though coincidentally many a lowly La Liga team has been able to do it every now and then). Dortmund deserve a pat on the back for their performance.
Particularly because they were the ones chasing as the final minutes came and went.
Zidane’s undoubtedly going to be under severe scrutiny, but mostly because Los Blancos have had three draws in a row, not at all because of this specific result only. The Westfalenstadion is a very intimidating place to go play, might I say almost as intimidating as the Santiago Bernabeu itself.
There needs to be more solidity at the back (stating the obvious here) but, more likely than not, it’s just because of the two aforementioned Brazilians’ absence. From the German club’s perspective, it was a performance which reflected their current potential perfectly.
With the enormous amount of money that Dortmund spent this past summer, improvement was expected, but so was quality in-depth. Losing key personnel (Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündoğan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan) and finding players with enough quality to suitably replace them is a victory in itself. To be able to match a team of Real Madrid’s calibre in every position, stride for stride, is astounding.
But, those who’ve followed current manager Thomas Tuchel from his Mainz days will tell you it’s no surprise.
The coach is almost the perfect complement to the development that his ancestor, Jürgen Klopp, had done with this unit of players. He’s built on the high-energy pressing game that has been the trademark of BVB in the past few years and added a sort of calmness to it. Possession is now something that the club strives to gain, not just for the sole purpose of attacking, but for the sake of having. Tuchel’s Dortmund now dictate the tempo of the entire match through possession. Even against teams that are ‘better’ than they are.
The extent of their exertion of control over a game—through possession—was seen when they played archrivals Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup to kick off the season. Traditionally, it was always the team from Bavaria who controlled the majority of the ball, with BVB usually feeding off worms and insects and the occasional catastrophe. However, this season, Dortmund sent waves throughout their ranks after dominating Bayern by 56% to 44% in possession, while also looking the better side throughout. To Bayern and Ancelotti’s credit, though, the Bavarians did win the game.
Every great footballing ‘reign’, so to speak, starts with the right foundation. A young manager filled with hunger and a team that reverberates the same seems like a winning bet.
With PSG struggling and Atleti’s commitment issues with Simeone and Griezmann, Dortmund are the ideal 4th favorites to win the UCL.