Cristiano Ronaldo at Dortmund

With the chances of turning the tide and somehow making an unbelievable comeback in the second leg quite slim, Real Madrid head into their encounter with Borussia Dortmund hoping that like another Spanish team from almost a decade ago, a 4-1 thrashing in the first leg isn’t the end of the world.

After winning 4-1 at home against Deportivo in the quarterfinals of the 2003-2004 Champions League season, AC Milan were quite confident heading into the second leg and playing in the Riazor. An early (5th minute) goal by Walter Pandiani meant that isn’t not going to be the easiest of days, and later on two goals just before half time by Juan Carlos Valeron and Alberto Luque made it 3-0, with Milan on the ropes. Fran Gonzalez finished the job to make it 4-0 in the 76th minute.

Things happen, and that Milan team were the European champions. The least time Dortmund reached the semifinal, they were knocked out by Real Madrid (1998). Their home leg against Malaga, in which they needed a bit of help from the referee, showed how fragile and tense this team can get. Real Madrid have their work cut out for them, but if Dortmund concede early, it’s not going to be so clear cut anymore.

Real Madrid need to score three goals (and concede 0) in order to advance. They’ve already scored three goals at home this season in the competition, three times: Once in the 3-2 win over Manchester City, again in a 4-1 win over Ajax, and once in the 3-0 win over Galatasaray, getting a little help from the officials once again. Except for their match against the Turkish champions, they’ve conceded in every home match in the competition.

But what is there to, besides hoping Cristiano Ronaldo has a legendary match? Not using Mesut Ozil as a right winger would be a good start. Getting someone to track Ilkay Gundogan as much as possible wouldn’t hurt as well. Dortmund won’t change their approach too much as we saw in their first visit to the Santiago Bernabeu this season, just a little bit more cautious in their attacking selections.

Predictions – Unless Real Madrid’s opening blitz bears remarkable fruit, it’s hard to believe they can turn this around. Win? Certainly, but they’re simply not a better team than Dortmund, which makes a draw very likely.