Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will meet each other in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night in a match that will decide who comes out on top in Group F.
Both teams have already qualified for the next round, but the match, to be played at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, will decide who advances to the knockout stages as group winners.
Knockout path to be decided
The big significance of the match is that the winner will top Group F, and therefore avoid the other group winners in Monday’s first knockout round draw.
Real Madrid go into the game with Dortmund two points behind their opponents, meaning that the Spanish side must win the match if they are to top the group, while Dortmund will win the group provided they avoid defeat.
The supposed benefit to finishing first in the group is to gain a favourable draw in the first knockout round, as the group winner would avoid being drawn with the other group winners, such as Barcelona, Juventus and Atlético Madrid. However, with teams like Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City among the teams to have finished as runners-up in the other groups, there is no guarantee that winning the group will give either Real Madrid or Dortmund an easier draw.
Nonetheless, there are still plenty of reasons why the two sides will be eager to win on Wednesday, as each win nets the club £1.5 million in prize money for a start. The club that does top the group will also be drawn at home in the second leg of the next round, a benefit if there is extra time to be played.
In addition, a match like this is a good test for both sides to test themselves against tough opponents, acting as a good warm-up for the step-up in quality during the latter stages.
Last time out
The two sides met on 27 September in Matchday 2 of this season’s competition, and played out a 2-2 draw at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.
Real’s star man Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first goal of the game, before Dortmund’s own talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled before half-time. Raphael Varane restored Real’s lead in the 68th minute, but Andre Schurrle scored three minutes from time to secure a vital point for the Germans.
There will be plenty of eyes on Dortmund’s star man, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international has scored 15 goals in 12 games in the Bundesliga this season, and has also scored three times in four Group F matches, including the one in the reverse fixture in September.
Aubameyang was also linked with a move to the Bernabeu in the summer, and apparently said earlier this year that he would only leave Dortmund to go to Real Madrid. Speculation over Aubameyang’s future has predictably intensified in the build-up to this week’s game, but he goes into the game very much a Dortmund player, and will he fire his current side to the top of the group?
Keep an eye out for Lucas Vázquez, who is likely to make an appearance in Real’s front line. The Spanish international forward is mostly seen coming on from the subs bench – he has made 19 appearances in all competitions this season, with 12 coming from the bench – but is set to enjoy a run of starts following Gareth Bale’s recent injury. This game could be his opportunity to further stake a claim for a regular starting even when Bale returns.
Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Casemiro, Isco, Modric, Lucas, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Sokratis, Bartra, Schmelzer, Weigl, Rode, Dembele, Castro, Schurrle, Aubameyang.
Kick-off: 19.45 pm