Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is calling on his players to give every last breath to try and overturn a 4-1 deficit to Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League semifinal second leg at the Bernabeu.
Mourinho’s men were victims of a stunning Dortmund performance in Germany last week as Robert Lewandowski struck four goals. And the Portuguese boss is well aware that his team will have to up their game considerably if they are to produce a famous comeback.
“We played badly in Dortmund and it's difficult to believe we are going to do the same again,” he said, according to UEFA’s official Web site. “I want mental toughness from my players. We have to enjoy ourselves on the pitch, although we are in a difficult situation.
“We have to play it minute by minute and goal by goal until the last breath of the match. We may ultimately lose the game, but we will have no chance if we play like we did in Dortmund.”
The last time a side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit in Europe’s premier competition was in 2004 when Deportivo La Coruna beat Milan 4-0 back at home to progress to the semifinals.
Madrid’s attempts to match that achievement will be boosted by the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. The forward suffered a muscle problem before the match last week and missed the weekend victory over Atletico Madrid, but his participation never looked seriously in jeopardy for Tuesday’s crucial encounter. Full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo are still ruled out.
Many observers have already begun planning for an all-German final, with Bayern Munich leading Barcelona 4-0 in the other last four clash, but Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is keen to stress that nothing has yet been decided.
“Nobody could have imagined we'd be here only a few years ago though we haven't achieved anything yet,” he explained. “Anything can happen in football. We must concentrate on what happens out on the pitch tomorrow. I fully believe my team will play correctly and we will be hard to beat.”
Polish right-back Lukasz Piszczek is a major doubt with a groin strain and is likely to be given the maximum time to prove his fitness.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Essien, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Borussia Dortmund (probable)
D: Piszczek, Hummels, Subotic, Schmelzer
M: Gundogan, Bender
Blaszczykowski, Gotze, Reus
Prediction: It would be wrong to write off Madrid’s chances of getting back into the tie. European competition this season has seen plenty of examples of the hesitancy that a significant first-leg advantage can bring for the team defending it in the second leg.
Dortmund have to go out with the same positive but controlled mindset that they displayed at home and avoid the natural tendency to simply hold on to what they have.
Madrid need to do a better job of matching the intensity of Dortmund on and off the ball. The opening to the match will be key as if the home side can come out of the blocks with urgency then they will get the Bernabeu crowd believing in a comeback, especially if an early goal goes their way.
Ultimately, though, Madrid may have just left themselves with too much to do to make the final.
Real Madrid 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Betting Odds: Real Madrid are 11/20 favorites to get the win on the night with Bet 365. A draw is priced at 4/1 and a Dortmund win at 9/2. To make it through to the final, Dortmund are favorites at 2/9, with Madrid at 7/2.
Where to watch: The Champions League semifinal second leg will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.