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In anticipation of the massive Champions League ties in the Quarter-Final stage, we’ve done something special for our build-up. Eight teams, eight experts, each giving us their insight into their team’s chances, tactical set ups and bold predictions.
Cristian Nyari is the expert for this piece focusing on Borussia Dortmund. Cristian is a Dortmund supporter, and Editor-in-Chief at BundesligaFanatic.com. His work can also be found at Bleacher Reports, New York Times and more. You can find him on twitter @cnyari
Firstly, what are your thoughts on Dortmund’s Champions League campaign so far?
All things considered it’s been a great campaign. I very much agree with Klopp that the goal was to reach the knockout stages. Everything else was a bonus. Now they are in the final eight while missing half of their first choice players and competing on three different fronts. You can’t ask for much more than what Dortmund have done.
Many fans were considering Borussia Dortmund to be an easy draw for the quarter final stage. What do you have to tell those already writing Dortmund off? Are the side capable of proving their critics wrong?
This is not that black or white in my opinion. On one hand I agree that they were the “easiest” draw of the last eight, if one would have to rank teams. As mentioned already, they are dealing with a severe injury crisis which was pushed to the absolute maximum already. They barely reached the knockout stages and have Schalke breathing down their necks in the league. Klopp has done wonders with an incredibly thin squad. That said, I don’t think anyone expected Dortmund to do what they did to Madrid last year. In that sense, everything is possible. But if I were a betting man I would probably lean towards Madrid. If Lewandowski would be available for both legs I might be a bit more optimistic but they have leaned on him a bit too much in Europe this year.
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Dortmund’s side to face Real Madrid will severely be hampered by injuries compared to the one that faced them last year. What are Klopp’s options to overcome this injury crisis?
The truth is that there aren’t many options. Certainly not great ones. And that swings the odds in Madrid’s favor that much more. Aubameyang has had a very good debut year but he is very hot and cold and Klopp has not trusted Jonas Hofmann enough to start him regularly. The pressure will fall mainly on Reus to compensate both for Lewandowski’s absence in the first leg and to carry their attack. Defensively they have used 16 different combinations at the back which could be an even bigger impediment against the most prolific attack in the competition.
Come this summer, Dortmund would have lost two of their main personnel from the first team. Do you see this season as the best opportunity the side have of reaching the semis, for a few years?
There is no reason why Dortmund’s success cannot be sustained in the coming years. They adapted very well after losing Sahin and Kagawa. As long as the club keeps scouting intelligently and spending their money wisely they can build on what is already in place. The biggest challenge will be finding an adequate replacement for Lewandowski but the club knows they need to make several signings in all areas of the pitch. After the last two seasons they have enough appeal to attract the best players around Europe and the league is filled with talented young players that would come cheap and willing. Whether that means they can reach the semifinals of the Champions League again remains to be seen but consistent appearances in the competition is definitely realistic.
How would you set up in terms of a starting XI for the first leg against Real Madrid?
The backline should be Piszczek, Hummels, Sokratis and Durm. In midfield Klopp will start Kehl and Sahin and up front it should be Reus, Mkhitaryan and Grosskreutz supporting Aubameyang. Could also be Reus starting up front but he’s better playing deeper and creating chances.
We attempt to track the progress of the best young players as much as time allows under our #TalentRadar and Scout Report features. Which youngster coming through from Dortmund are you most excited about?
No question about it: Marvin Ducksch. His record at the youth level is prolific and he has already played and trained with the senior team. Klopp has been grooming him for two years and next year he should play a significant part in the first team.
Finally, if you were to make a prediction for the tie, who do you see going through? Any particular scoreline?
I can be optimistic and say Dortmund will get a result in Spain but the reality is probably going to be quite different. Madrid will want to put the last two weeks behind them and will come out swinging. They have been prolific at home and will likely overwhelm Dortmund. If I had to guess I would say 3-1 Madrid.
Over to you. What do you think of Dortmund’s chances? How can they overcome the injury concerns?
For the rest of our interviews from this series and all our other interviews, head this way.