Champions league

Real hopes two comes before 10

Madrid must reverse formidable German record to gain foothold in semifinal clash

Real Madrid coach José Mourinho (l) and Mesut Özil after their press conference on Tuesday.
Real Madrid coach José Mourinho (l) and Mesut Özil after their press conference on Tuesday. FRISO GENTSCH / EFE

In order to start thinking about the décima — the long sought-after Holy Grail that is Real Madrid’s quest for a 10th European Cup — José Mourinho will first have to think about the number two: in 24 visits to Germany in continental competition, Real Madrid has emerged victorious on just one occasion. The old adage about soccer being a game played between 11 and 11, which the Germans inevitably win, is nowhere truer than on the soil of the Bundesrepublik.

That solitary triumph, a group stage win over Bayer Leverkusen in 2000-01, came in the midst of 17 defeats and six ties. Neither has Real enjoyed its two previous meetings with Jürgen Klopp’s dazzling young Borussia Dortmund side in this year’s competition, losing 2-1 in Germany and scraping a 2-2 tie at the Bernabéu.

Madrid should be able to field more or less Mourinho’s first-choice 11 against Borussia on Wednesday (8.45pm, Canal+ Liga de Campeones) with Sergio Ramos switching to the right to cover Álvaro Arbeloa’s suspension and Pepe slotting into the center of defense alongside Raphaël Varane. In attack, the trusted quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Ángel di María and Karim Benzema can be tasked with seeking an all-important away goal.

Dortmund, meanwhile, was unpleasantly distracted by the task in hand Tuesday when Bundesliga bully Bayern Munich, the other German semifinalist, announced it had triggered Mario Götze’s 37-million-euro release clause. Hardly ideal timing, and something the young German international might have been advised to keep under his hat until Thursday at least. Still, Klopp called on the club’s supporters to contain their understandable ire — Götze is Germany’s most exciting prospect in years — and get behind the team as it seeks to redress losing to Real in the 1997-98 semifinals over two legs. “We played Madrid in the group stage and won 2-1. That was a great game. Then we went to Madrid and put in one of our greatest performances. I have been here for six years and I know our supporters will be fully behind us tomorrow, because here in Dortmund, BVB is more important than anything else,” said midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski.

“All four goals we conceded against Dortmund [in the group stage] were mistakes by us,” said Mourinho in Tuesday’s press conference. “We hope we will not concede that many goals in the next games. Madrid is one of those clubs where finishing second counts for nothing. So we have to reach the final and then win that.”