Few teams have such a young and dynamic duo like Dortmund, joining the forces of Marco Reus (after purchasing him this summer) and Mario Gotze, who make things that are simply just short of magical happen when they’re focused and in sync, simply by doing the right things instead of the complicated ones.
The key to their success is the speed and quickness in which they do things. Both not the most powerful and physically imposing of players, Dortmund’s best minutes during the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid came in the first half, when both Reus and Gotze had room to stride forward undisturbed due to a lack of a willing defensive midfielder on the Real Madrid side.
Both goals came with Lewandowski dropping the ball after plucking it with a header, Gotze and Reus coming in after losing a full back and enjoying a calm finish in front of Casillas. In the first goal it was a wonderful shot from Reus and Casillas not doing enough; the second goal involved Kevin Grosskreutz with the assist, Gotze shaking off Alvaro Arbeloa who scored an own goal.
It hasn’t been working perfectly in the league, for different reasons. Dortmund get a lot more respect in Germany than they do in the Champions League, and are struggling this season with finding way through teams that park the bus. The departure of Shinji Kagawa is felt, with no one to keep the match and passing between defensive midfield and the forwards organized. Gotze sees a lot of the ball, but the unexpected aspect to his game can work both ways. Ilkay Gundogan hasn’t been 100% once this season.
Dortmund and Klopp made a big mistake in the second half by settling for the the 2-1 lead. Real Madrid do not react well against teams that try and play them head on instead of cowering behind, hoping for a chance to counter attack. First the substitution of Marco Reus for Sven Bender, which meant less speed and one less player looking to score goals, while taking out Gundogan and throwing in Perisic didn’t really help. Perisic played too wide and isn’t one to push the team forward when they do win the ball. Just another option for long balls without a lot of chances to make something out of it.
Real Madrid love to play against ultra-defensive tactics. Their direct passing style and fantastic ability to break down defenses with long range shooting is made for 90% of Spanish teams, that usually head into the Bernabeu hoping to lose 2-0 and leave home satisfied. Dortmund didn’t make any huge mistakes on defense, which is strong enough, but they invited that equalizing goal from Mesut Ozil.
The end result and the big picture is the important thing I guess. A lot of things need to happen so Dortmund don’t make it out of this group, and their ability and performances through the first four matches prove that they deserve the top spot in the group; more than Real Madrid and obviously more than the failing Manchester City, who could only get 1 point from their two matches with Ajax.