BERLIN, Germany, Dec 6 – Borussia Dortmund can set a new Champions League goal record at Real Madrid on Wednesday if the likes of Marco Reus, Ousmane Dembele or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score at the Bernabeu.
Dortmund arrive in Madrid just one shy of the 20-goal record three teams — Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona — have previously tallied in the Champions League group stages.
Two of those, United, in 1998/99, and Real, who achieved ‘La Decima’ — a tenth European crown — in 2013/14, went on to win that season’s European title.
Thomas Tuchel’s leaders Dortmund hold a two-point advantage over Real in Group F and the winner of Wednesday’s clash in Madrid will qualify top of the table.
Star-studded Real, spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo, present a formidable challenge at home, but Dortmund are in buoyant mood.
It finished 2-2 when the teams met in Dortmund last September as Andre Schuerrle’s late goal rescued the hosts after Ronaldo and Raphael Varane scored for Real and Aubameyang had netted for Borussia.
But Dortmund were boosted a fortnight ago by the return of Germany winger Marco Reus after six months out with the adductor injury that saw him miss Euro 2016.
The 27-year-old grabbed two goals, with a third later credited as an own goal, and set up two more when Dortmund trounced Legia Warsaw 8-4 at home a fortnight ago in a record score for a Champions League match.
– Rolls Reus hits top gear –
Reus also weighed in with three assists, and had a goal disallowed, in Dortmund’s 4-1 thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
“The injury, which meant a six-month break, has made him more mature,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
“Now Marco is back and it’s fantastic the way he has returned.”
Against Gladbach, Aubameyang also netted twice — to make him the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 15 goals — and Dembele also got on the scoresheet in what Tuchel described as “a complete performance from us”.
“In my opinion Ousmane Dembele had one of his best matches in a Dortmund shirt,” added Tuchel.
Reus is currently a joy to watch, from the way he casually robbed Gladbach defender Nico Elvedi of possession to his audacious backheel which set up Aubameyang for his second goal as Dortmund warmed up for Madrid.
“The pass was crazy, but that’s just Marco Reus. You know what he’s like,” said Aubameyang.
“I am very happy that he is back. He is one of the best players we have.”
– Dembele’s precocious talent –
Dortmund’s current tally of 19 Champions League goals is boosted by their results against Legia.
They romped to a 6-0 away win in Warsaw when six different players scored before the record 8-4 win at home.
Dembele has been a revelation in his first season with Dortmund since joining from French side Rennes.
The precociously talented winger announced his arrival with a superb goal in Dortmund’s 4-1 drubbing of Manchester United on a pre-season tour of China and has produced ten assists and four goals in all competitions.
Aubameyang has taken the 19-year-old Dembele under his wing, helping the teenager with his finishing, but also his defending, which had been an issue.
Dembele has been guilty of giving away possession too easily, especially in Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt a week ago, but Tuchel says the young Frenchman was “the difference” in the win over Gladbach.
“He played one of his best games, because he carefully passed in situations when it was not appropriate to dribble,” noted Tuchel.
“He defended very attentively and made the difference in certain situations.”