Event: UEFA Champions League – Quarter final, 1st Leg
Date: Wednesday, 12th April 2017
KICK OFF: 5:45pm (Nigerian time)
Venue: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
The Germans, fresh from a 4-1 drubbing in the hands of champions and league leaders Bayern Munich, welcome the French Ligue 1 leaders, Monaco, to the Westfalenstadion tonight before travelling to the principality for the return leg next Wednesday.
Dortmund are expected to welcome back Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa from injury, along with right-back Lukasz Piszczek. Midfielder Marco Reus may also be fit enough to play, still doubtful though.
On the other hand, for Monaco, Djibril Sidibe is out of action in hospital being treated for appendicitis, while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, who scored the deciding goal in the last round against Man City, is suspended.
Fourth in the Bundesliga table currently, Tuchel feels Monaco’s superior domestic form may give them a small advantage. Earlier on, he did say:
“Monaco have lots of players who impress us.
“We think they have outstanding individual talent, but they are also very compact as a team and athletically very strong.
“It’s a very complete package with an outstanding coach who has a distinctive style. They have big personalities and a lot of good young players.
“It is a 50-50 game, but the momentum (is) slightly on their side. But we feel ready for this great match, to show what we can do and to win it.”
KEY STATISTICS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE COUNTDOWN TICKS AWAY
-This is the first competitive encounter between Dortmund and Monaco.
Only one French team has beaten Dortmund on their own soil in European competition (D3 L5), it was Marseille in December 2011 (3-2).
-Meanwhile, this will be Monaco’s third competitive game against a German side this season after facing Bayer Leverkusen in the group stages, drawing 1-1 at home before losing 3-0 away.
-Borussia Dortmund have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the third time in the last five seasons.
-Borussia Dortmund have lost only one of their eight Champions League games this season (W5 D2), it was away against Benfica in the round of 16 first leg. However, Dortmund have lost seven of their last 10 games in the Champions League knockout stages (W3).
-Borussia Dortmund have scored more goals than any other team from the 76th minute onwards in this season’s Champions League (7). They’ve also netted 12 goals in their last two home games (8 v Legia Warsaw, 4 v Benfica).
-Monaco have made the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the fourth time. Only PSG have done better among the French teams (five times)
-It’s the second time in three years Monaco have reached the last eight of the competition. However, the last time they made the semis was back in 2003/04, when they were eventually beaten by Porto in the final.
-Monaco have conceded 13 goals in the Champions League this season – including eight in their last two away games – more than any other team among the remaining quarter-finalists.
-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored seven goals in seven Champions League games this season, including a hat-trick in his last outing against Benfica in the round of 16.
-Despite making only 11 starts in the Champions League, Falcao has scored eight goals.
-Fabinho is directly involved in three of Monaco’s last six Champions League goals (1 goal, 2 assists).
Thomas Tuchel (Dortmund): “[Monaco] play at a very high tempo and, in addition to individual talent, they have a very strong team ethic. I think it’s safe to say we won’t have two 0-0 draws; both teams are too interested in scoring and pushing themselves to the limit.”
Leonardo Jardim (Monaco): “My opinion is that we’re not favourites. I think there are two quality teams with a lot of missing players, it’s not easy to play all these competitions every three days with this intensity. We played in the third qualifying round, the play-offs, the group stage… We’re the team that has played most in Europe. It’s not easy, but it’s not possible to put our reserve team out to face Dortmund. We need to play to our maximum.”
FORM GUIDE (all competitions, most recent first)
VERDICT: Monaco became the first side ever to advance through a knockout tie in the competition after conceding a whopping six goals in the two-legged round-of-16 clashes against Man City who they eventually eliminated on away goals. With Dortmund having broken for goals scored in the competition’s group stage with 21 and finishing above Real Madrid to claim the top spot,in tonight’s game, I see a goal fest between both sides despite the injury and fitness worries.
RECOMMENDED BETS: GG & 2.5, over 2.5 or over 3.5