This is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season so far for the recently dethroned Bundesliga champions as they welcome the nine-time European Champions to Signal Iduna Park. Despite the shock of Götze's departure, head coach Jürgen Klopp insisted that “nothing will disrupt our preparation“ for the club’s first Champions League semi-final in 15 years.
Two rooms were needed to accommodate the journalists assembled at the club’s pre-match press conference and, unsurprisingly, talk centred on the Götze transfer. “The timing isn’t great, but it could have been worse; it could have come out four hours before kick-off. I was aware of the situation after the game against Malaga. Mario is an outstanding player that we would love to have kept. But the transfer is done and dusted," said Klopp.
“He was on the wish-list of [incoming FC Bayern coach] Pep Guardiola and he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to play under such an excellent coach. This isn’t a decision against BVB or his team-mates, not in the slightest,” the tactician continued, before insisting that the 20-year-old will still play a huge part in the remaining months of the campaign: “He can help us achieve our goals this season.”
Focused on Madrid
Also in attendance at the pre-match press conference was Polish international Jakub ‘Kuba’ Blaszczykowski, who needed no reminding that Dortmund beat Madrid the last time the clubs met at Signal Iduna Park. “We played a great game against them in Dortmund and we have to do the same things again this time around. I’ve been here for six and a half years and I’m looking forward to the support from the fans.”
Real Madrid were losing semi-finalists to FC Bayern Munich in the competition last season, and Klopp is under no illusions as to what sort of challenge awaits his men over the two legs. "Madrid are one of the world's best teams, and they don't have just one style of play, they have many. [In the last 16] against Manchester United, they showed that against ten men as well as eleven they can dominate possession."
Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 53 goals in 56 appearances for club and country this season and is the fifth highest scorer in the history of the Champions League with 49 goals. The Spanish champions also boast Germany internationals Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira in their midfield, as well as former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and world and European Champion with Spain, Xabi Alonso.
Nevertheless, the latest crop of ‘Galacticos’ will also be wary of a side they failed to beat, even at home (the game in Madrid ended in a 2-2 draw). “We haven’t lost in the Champions League this season and we want to the keep that run going until the end,” continued Kuba. “We have a lot of respect for Madrid, but we’re all ready for this test.”
Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Gündogan, Bender – Blaszczykowski, Götze, Reus – Lewandowski
Real Madrid: Diego Lopez – Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao – Alonso, Khedira – di Maria, Özil, Higuain - Ronaldo