Injuries hit Real as Dortmund relish 'cool' game
Borussia Dortmund entertain Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday with the Germans eager to take advantage of their injury-hit Spanish opponents by grabbing top spot in Group D.
Germany midfielder Sami Khedira returned to training on Sunday, a rare piece of positive injury news for Jose Mourinho’s Real team who are two points ahead of Dortmund in the group.
Full backs Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao returned from international duty with problems of varying seriousness, Marcelo being ruled out for around three months with a fractured bone in his foot.
Mourinho deployed midfielder Michael Essien at left back for Saturday’s 2-0 La Liga win at home to Celta Vigo with Sergio Ramos moving to right back and inexperienced teenager Raphael Varane slotting in alongside Pepe in central defence.
“The four guys at the back played very well,” Mourinho’s assistant Aitor Karanka said. “Celta only had one chance with a header at the end and our defence did some fantastic work.
“Sergio knows the (right back) position, Rafa delivers when he is used and Pepe was the same as always.”
Real’s prolific Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo gashed his knee but is expected to be available for the trip to Germany.
Mourinho will need all the fit bodies he can muster if Dortmund emulate the form they showed in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City earlier this month.
City needed a last-gasp equaliser to snatch a point against the Bundesliga champions.
Dortmund’s 2-1 home defeat by Schalke 04 on Saturday did little to dampen spirits ahead of Wednesday’s match.
“We did not play well against Schalke and there is nothing we can do to change that,” said coach Juergen Klopp. “But the match against Real Madrid remains a cool game.”
Klopp should have left back Marcel Schmelzer and midfielder Ilkay Guendogan back after they missed Saturday’s game along with Jakub Blaszczykowski who will remain sidelined for at least two more months.
Playmaker Mario Goetze is also set to return after missing the Ruhr Valley derby, infusing their midfield with the creativity and spark that was missing against Schalke.
The Germans started that game with a 3-5-2 system but it was dropped after 25 minutes in favour of a 4-4-2 lineup that is likely to be used against Real.
“We will show a completely different face against Real,” said defender Mats Hummels. “There will also be the return of some of our injured players.”