German giant Borussia Dortmund will host Ukrainian champion Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday in a round of 16-second leg match to decide which team will move onto the final eight.
Dortmund barely squeaked out a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Ukraine after defender Mats Hummels scored with just minutes remaining, but at home this week, Dortmund is the favorites. Unfortunatley for the German squad, the hero in the first leg (Hummels), has missed the last two matches with the flu and is questionable for Tuesday. The good news is that key players Mario Gotze and Lukasz Piszczek should be well rested after sitting out of Dortmund’s match versus Hannover at the weekend.
Dortmund has been a surprise during this year’s Champions League, having beaten Manchester City, Ajax, and Real Madrid already in the group stages. While the team is well out of contention for the Bundesliga title, they have a chance to make fans forget about their domestic troubles with a serious run in the Champions League. With stars emerging on the world stage in the form of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, and Mats Hummels, Dortmund has shown the ability to posses the ball, while creating goal-scoring opportunities at will. Another key to their success has been their defensive prowess lead by German international Mats Hummels, who has proven himself to be one of the world’s best central defenders over the past few seasons. However, if the Champions League has shown fans anything over the course of history, it is that nothing is guaranteed, and with a formidable opponent coming into the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday in the form of Shakhtar Donetsk, Dortmund must be clicking on all cylinders if they want to move on.
13 points clear at the top of the UPL (Ukrainian Premier League), Shakhtar Donetsk has its sight set on Champions League glory. After an impressive stretch in the group stages, Donetsk is now in position to advance to the final eight. With a 2-2 draw in the first leg, Donetsk needs an inspired victory to move on against a tough Dortmund side, but they have the creative ability and desire to do just that. With players like Darijo Srna, Fernandinho, and Taison, Donetsk possesses speed and skill to match up against the best, which will make Tuesday’s match a very interesting one to watch.
Let’s take a look at some of Tuesday’s key battles:
Robert Lewandowski vs. Donetsk Defense
Polish international Robert Lewandowski has scored 22 goals in 31 matches this season including five goals in Champions League play. His finishing ability is among the best in the world and his off the ball movement is second to none. Not only does he produce individually, he also makes his teammates better and without him, Dortmund would certainly not have come this far. He isn’t the biggest or the fastest player, but his intangibles are what make him great. Come Tuesday, the Donetsk defense, which has shown to be beatable, will need to shut Lewandowski down completely if they want a shot at winning. Lewandowski is the key to Dortmund’s success and his play will be very important on Tuesday.
Luiz Adriano vs. Mats Hummels
Borussia Dortmund has been very tough defensively this season and over the past few season thanks mostly in part to the play of Mats Hummels. Hummels is a big, strong, smart, skilled defender with all the tools to take on any striker in the world. On Tuesday, he will face the speed and skill of Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano of Shakhtar Donetsk and the matchup is sure to be crucial to the outcome of the match. Hummels will have the advantage in strength, but Adriano can use his speed to out gun the defender and will need to move off the ball well in order to avoid the power of the German international. Adriano has scored three goals and dished out two assists in six Champions League matches thus far and his play will be a big determinant of whether or not Donetsk can advance.
Marco Reus vs. Darijo Srna
Since joining Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus has been nothing but spectacular. His pace, skill, and shooting have given Dortmund a lethal compliment to the goal-scoring prowess of Robert Lewandowski. As a drop forward/winger, Reus plays a crucial role for Dortmund and often plays the role of provider for Lewandowski. On the other side, Darijo Srna plays a similar role for Donetsk, but in a different way. As captain, Srna provides not just skill, but also leadership to a side with a lot of young players. A free kick specialist, Srna scored a brilliant goal in the first leg of the round 16 and could be the expert when Tuesday roles around. The battle between Reus and Srna will be incredibly entertaining to watch.