Jose Mourinho made two changes from the first leg. Angel Di Maria replaced Luka Modric, with the latter dropping into midfield in place of the more industrious and defensive-minded Sami Khedira. Michael Essien replaced Pepe, with Sergio Ramos shifting across to centre-back.
Jurgen Klopp on the other hand, named the same side that trounced Los Blancos 4-1 last week.
How the teams lined up
Madrid in many ways did exactly what Dortmund did to them last week. They pressed high, closed off space and disrupted the BVB rhythm.
There was a notably increased physicality about their play from the off, particularly when it came to dealing with Robert Lewandowski. The Polish forward had a much more difficult time of it this week; he was subject to some rough treatment from Los Blancos defenders, particularly Sergio Ramos. Perhaps a bit too rough in some instances.
Madrid Overload Dortmund Left
The early attacking plan for Real was clear. Target Schmelzer. The left-back is probably the weakest link in this Dortmund juggernaut and Madrid were keen to exploit this chink.
Madrid targeting the Dortmund left
Mesut Ozil was key to this. He shifted over to the Madrid right hand side regularly, linking up with Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain to great effect. The result was three or four clear cut chances, but Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain and Ozil were all unable to capitalize.
Ozil working the space between the lines on the right-hand side
With Marco Reus offering little assistance defensively, BVB were out-numbered and completely outmaneuvered down their left-hand side.
The injury to Mario Gotze actually helped Dortmund stem the Madrid tide. Reus moved into a central area, and Gotze’s replacement, the more defensively inclined Kevin Großkreutz played from the left-hand side.
Großkreutz made a telling defensive contribution.
He offered Schmelzer considerably more protection and Madrid found it increasingly more difficult to find Ozil in those pocket. Ozil, as a result, started to roam about the pitch, looking for the ball in other areas. But as Dortmund settled, the space between the lines was gobbled up by sitting midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Sven Bender.
Madrid, as a result, looked short of ideas. The initial ferocity was becoming less and less abundant. Their pressing too, dropped off and they struggled to find gaps in the reinforced and more defensively minded Dortmund line-up. As they creeped further and further forward in search of a goal, gaps started to emerge for BVB on the break.
Großkreutz actually had a couple of clear opportunities to play in Reus towards the end of the half, but was unable to find the killer ball in either instance.
Real Go 3 At The Back
The second half started with Madrid leaving even more space on the break than they did in the first half. Both fullbacks pushed into attacking positions, and without a Khedira-type player in the double pivot midfield, BVB were able to find Reus and Lewandowski between the lines with ease. This Dortmund forwards subsequently isolated the Madrid centre-backs on the break, with one move seeing Lewandowski crash an effort off the bar.
Mourinho waited until the 55th minute before changing things. Madrid changed to a 3-4-1-2 system, with Kaka playing in behind a front two of Ronaldo and the second substitute Karim Benzema. Ozil and Di Maria were tasked with providing the width. A compact back three also gave an extra man in combating BVB’s counter attacks through the middle of the pitch.
But, as is often the case with a back three, the tactical shift gave Dortmund much more space in the wide areas. Immediately after the substitution, Großkreutz and Reus were able to create clear cut chances from the flanks for Lewandowski and Gundogan respectively. Both were wasted, which was very much in keeping with the first hour of the contest.
Madrid saw the majority of the ball from this point on, but pulled the trigger far too frequently. Dortmund were seemingly happy to sit deep and let the Madrid players try their luck. With time at a premium, they didn’t really have a great deal of time to play with much patience. But their shooting at goal was wild and wasteful.
Madrid’s wasteful shooting
With that in mind, Madrid’s late rally came completely out of the blue. The goals from Benzema and Ramos gave Madrid a huge impetus, noticeably breathing fresh enthusiasm and energy into a team that up to the opening goals had looked bereft of ideas. But ultimately, it was too late. If they had taken one of those earlier chances, things could have been a whole lot different.
In the end, either team could have won this game very, very comfortably. Dortmund were always a major threat on the break and the roughhouse tactics employed by Ramos and co seemed to get the better of Lewandowski.
Lewandowski had five good opportunities in the penalty area
The man who bagged four in the first leg missed five great opportunities. At that point in the game, a Dortmund goal would have surely killed off any Madrid hopes.
For Real, it was a case of what might have been. But it was their performance in Germany that ultimately cost them their place in the final.
What did you think of the game? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @MattJFootball
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