DORTMUND, Germany: Borussia Dortmund insist they have not given up hope of a Champions League miracle in today’s quarter-final, second-leg against Real Madrid, even with the Spaniards holding a 3-0 lead.
Last season’s finalists Dortmund stand on the verge of a Champions League exit as they need to over-turn the huge deficit at their Westfalenstadion after last Wednesday’s defeat at Madrid’s Bernabeu.
World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start after he was forced off with a slight knee problem towards the end of the first leg, having scored Real’s third goal, and was rested for Saturday’s 4-0 win away to Real Sociedad.
The 29-year-old Portugal star trained with the Madrid squad on Sunday and looks set to travel to northern Germany.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with how his side coped without Ronaldo as goals from Asier Illarramendi, Gareth Bale, Pepe and Alvaro Morata sealed a convincing victory at Sociedad.
Madrid’s Italian manager was particularly pleased not to have picked up any more injuries.
“This victory reinforces the team and, moreover, we avoided injuries and showed a good level physically,” he said. Angel di Maria is also expected to start at Dortmund after only appearing as a substitute against Sociedad.
The Argentine also missed the first leg due to gastroenteritis and Fabio Coentrao will return at left-back after being rested at the weekend. To progress, Dortmund must better their stunning 4-1 semi-final, first leg win at home to Real nearly 12 months ago when Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who joins Bayern Munich next season, scored all four goals.
A similar result would see the Germans bow out on away goals and they picked up a confidence boost with a 2-1 comeback win over Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Lewandowski, who was suspended for the first leg, scored Dortmund’s opening goal on Saturday and will be an obvious concern to the Real back four.
Germany winger Marco Reus, who scored their 77th-minute winner against Wolves, said his side need to repeat Saturday’s impressive second-half display after a poor opening 45 minutes.
“We have not given up (against Real),” said Reus.
“If we play like we did (against Wolfsburg) in the first half, then it will be very difficult.
“If we play as well as we did in the second, we honestly have a chance. It will be damn hard, but we’ll give it everything.” Dortmund will be without suspended defensive midfielder Sebastian Kehl, which leaves coach Jurgen Klopp without an obvious replacement with both Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan injured.
Right-back Kevin Grosskreutz is set to prove his versatility once more with Klopp hinting he might switch the Germany international into the midfield. Dortmund are also set to welcome back goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, who will take over the captain’s armband from Kehl, after the 33-year-old missed the Wolves win after injuring his arm in the defeat at Madrid.
“We will not give anything away on Tuesday,” insisted Klopp, who has endured a horror run of injuries this season with both winger Jakub Blaszczykowski and Neven Subotic out with long-term knee problems.AFP