Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid: post-match reflections

Martin Rose

A bad night for Raphael Varane, Pepe, and Luka Modric, but a good night for Gonzalo Higuain, Dortmund, and Bayern Munich.

* If Raphael Varane was intended to play a more composed, disciplined foil to Pepe's aggression today, it failed utterly. The youngster has undoubted potential but he did not put a foot right all game tonight, constantly out of position and partly culpable for both goals by losing track of Dortmund players. Jose Mourinho may come to regret his needless alienation of Ricardo Carvalho.

* Pepe had a poor game, but all his weaknesses were allowed to be exploited. Varane was constantly AWOL, and Modric completely failed to track Mario Gotze for the entire time he was on the pitch. The Croatian's defensive qualities are often spoken of, but that simply means he is more willing to get stuck in than the average number 10 - he is not equipped to play in a conventional double-pivot without a purely-defensive partner, as he had as Tottenham in Sandro or Scott Parker.

* It will go down as a narrow defeat for Real Madrid, but the margin should have been greater. Dortmund did not attack in great numbers, and were denied two almost certain goals, once in the first half when the referee called an erroneous foul against Robert Lewandowski while he was left clean through, and again in the second when Dortmund were denied a clear penalty after Pepe's shove on Gotze. Whether they can achieve the consistency required is debatable, but BVB certainly have the performances of true Champions League giants in them, even with injuries.

* Jose Mourinho may feel that he has a good system in his constant rotation of Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, but it may be worth him giving one a consistent run - at the latter, the Argentine would be the only candidate. Benzema was ill-supplied all game, but it's hard to imagine the Argentine being marginalised in the same way. Any team that sits deep will make Benzema's pace next to useless, and there is the sense that it can almost be enough to keep him completely quiet.

* It was probably already over, but if Dortmund make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, then Bayern Munich can crack out the Liebfraumilch now. The title is surely theirs.

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