’Twas the night before champions league, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a….whiny, diving, complaining, pretty-boy Cristiano Ronaldo.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Straight out of Hershey preview of Dortmund v. Real Madrid for Day 2 of the Champions League group stage tomorrow. Today we will be talking about what we expect for tomorrow, what we hope for for tomorrow, and of course, about Christian Pulisic.
First, a little history: The last game Pulisic played against Real Madrid was in last year’s group stage, in which Dortmund drew 2-2 against Los Blancos in Madrid and Pulisic assisted the tying goal and generally looked like he belonged. He especially looked like he belonged when he beat Marcelo (who I don’t like, I’m not really sure why, but I assume if he plays for Real Madrid he’s an asshole) down the right flank.
But none of that matters anymore. We could talk about history all day but tomorrow is a new day, and a new game. Dortmund has a new coach and a host of new players. They’re coming off a 3-1 Champions League loss to Tottenham in which they actually played well but conceded some goals they never should have (Bürki, I don’t care what you say, you can’t leave that much space on the near post, twice). The 6-1 rout of M’Gladbach two days ago in the Bundesliga in which they played brilliantly should have them confident, but honestly I don’t think it matters all that much. Champions League is a completely different beast.
When it comes to Dortmund winning big games right now, everyone is talking about their defense. The defense has played well overall, but left gaping holes for counter attacks, as we saw against Tottenham. This must be fixed. If it’s not fixed, Real Madrid will take advantage. Cristiano Ronaldo will make brilliant a run, beat everyone, beat Burki, score a goal, and then inexplicably fall down and clutch his knee and start screaming, even though there’s no one within 20 yards.
And then he’ll get up and shove the ref.
The question is, how to fix it? Better communication? A different back line? Hopefully our pal Peter Bosz is on it.
And what about Christian Pulisic. If there’s one thing I know about Pulisic, it’s that he doesn’t shy away from big games, big players, or big challenges. I’m excited for this game because it’s such a grand stage, against such a grand team, which means that anything that happens is going to be magnified. I can’t imagine Pulisic not starting, and can’t imagine him not displaying some wonderful skills that will capture the hearts and minds of people around the world, coming as they will against a team as revered as Real Madrid.
But skills are not what I most hope for. I hope for CP to play a solid game, and more than anything for him to create opportunities, go at defenders, and generate assists and goals. Though assists and goals are not the most important things; the opportunities are.
Also, I expect CP to track back and defend and be as tenaciousas he usually is, which is actually probably his most underrated quality. Pulisic plays hard and wins balls, pure and simple. The reason he’s great, not that he’s going to be great, the reason he’s great right now, is that he does the intangibles.
Prediction? In a perfect world: Dortmund 3-1. Is this a perfect world? Absolutely not. But it could be, just for 90 minutes, tomorrow.