England 0-1 Germany: Three Lions End 2013 With Disappointing Defeat to Old Enemies

England 0-1 GermanyEngland concluded their 2013 programme of internationals with back-to-back home defeats to Chile and Germany, with the latter coming courtesy of Per Mertesacker’s header at Wembley on Tuesday night. Despite not fielding Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, Philipp Lahm, or Mario Gomez (among many others), the visitors managed to restrict the Three Li0ns to zero shots on target, a statistic which will be worrying for Roy Hodgson having seen his charges so comprehensively beaten at home by the world number twelves only a few days before.

Germany could probably have fielded a whole other starting eleven from the players left out and still had a stronger team on paper than England, but it was the home team who started the brightest, attacking from the very first whistle. England’s plan was clear - exploit the wings - where Germany’s Heiko Westermann and Marcel Schmelzer were thought to be considerably weaker than their compatriots Mertesacker and Jérôme Boateng in the center.

Ashley Cole and Kyle Walker were getting at the full-backs and the pace of Sturridge and Townsend was causing problems, but England seemed unable to fully break down the German defence. Half-chances came and went, usually for Wayne Rooney, but there was never a real clear-cut opportunity. Germany were threatening on the break through Reus and Götze, but Mönchengladbach’s Max Kruse seemed a little over-awed by the whole occasion, making only his sixth international appearance.

In the end, Germany’s goal was inevitable. Following a period of English pressure, the green shirts streamed forward and won a corner, which was placed directly on to the head of the tallest man on the pitch, the only England-based German in the team, Per Mertesacker.

England 0-1 GermanyJoe Hart made an outstanding save to keep him out during his first appearance for three weeks, but the ball came back out to Bayern’s Toni Kroos, who clipped in a delicious cross on the half-volley. it unsurprisingly found the head of Mertesacker, who guided it past Hart just inside the far post. Typical English punditry about typical German efficiency and typical English wastefulness followed, but in all honesty England couldn’t have felt too hard done by, having threatened so little themselves.

In a word, England seemed hesitant. On the occasions when someone did manage to get in behind the German defense, they tried to do something fancy and promptly found themselves without the ball, or support took so long to arrive that the visitors had time to fill their box with defenders. Hodgson’s men were left licking their wounds at half-time while Joachim Löw decided he wasn’t playing fair, bringing on one of the world’s finest defenders in Dortmund’s Mats Hummels.

The second half started at a furious pace with all of the chances going Germany’s way, and although Hart was impressive between the sticks, Marco Reus was wasteful on more than one occasion, and Kruse blazed over with passing options left and right.

Townsend hit the post with an excellent effort from range, wrapping his boot round the ball when it seemed it was beyond him, and an outrageous Adam Lallana turn almost paid dividends, but ultimately Roman Weidenfeller had little to do on his international debut. There was a distinct lack of urgency, and although the game was billed as a friendly, the 85,000 who went to Wembley would have been left disappointed by the apparent lack of passion among the England players against the old enemy.

So where now for England? Both this and the Chile game were, of course, friendlies, but Hodgson fielded strong enough teams in both matches to expect at least a draw at home to Chile. The Three Lions had a fairly satisfactory 2013 all in all, with a win and a draw against Brazil, a strong conclusion to World Cup qualifying and a satisfying victory over Scotland, but the barmy army finally seem to have their expectations in check ahead of next year’s finals in Rio - England are not going to win the World Cup.

Written by Sam France

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Pep Guardiola Believes Abundance of Bayern Munich Midfielders Will be Key to Success

Thiago AlcântaraBayern Munich officially confirmed the signing of Thiago Alcântara from Barcelona for an initial fee thought to be around €22 million. Earlier this month, Thiago was all set to join Manchester united until out of the blue Pep Guardiola boldly stated, “I want Thiago. I have asked Rummenigge and Matthias Summer to get him. It’ll be him or no one. We have many players but we need the special quality that Thiago Alcantara brings.” Is this a statement that sums up Guardiola’s innocent intentions? Or is Thiago’s arrival a subliminal warning signal to other midfielders at the club?

The Bavarian club are coming off the back of a historic treble, and key to this achievement was a midfield that was second to none, not only in Germany but in the entire European continent. So wouldn’t altering an already majestic midfield be an act of foolishness? Enis Koylu, a sports journalist, claims that Thiago’s arrival would upset the balance of his new club and serve as a snub for Mario Gotze, another new signing at Bayern Munich. But again no one, not even Guardiola himself, said that Thiago was bought to take the place of any of the club’s established internationals. “Gotze is a superb player, but I need Thiago” were Pep’s exact words, a clear indication of his acknowledgment of Gotze’s qualities. Then where is the logic in purchasing Thiago?

What is certain about Bayern’s upcoming season is that they will play more than 50 games. German Super Cup, European Super Cup, Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, Champions League, and Club World Cup are the competitions that Bayern will try harder than usual to either retain or reclaim. In order to challenge for all titles and have a fit squad at decisive moments of the next campaign, the German Champions will need a team made up of in-shape winners and fighters, whether a starter or a substitute, and Thiago’s signature serves this purpose. His qualities would surely come in handy.

Arrigo Sacchi, mastermind of the Milan side that dominated the late 1980s, once said that the next tactical revolution in the game would be the conversion of the whole pitch into a midfield area, in addition to the elimination of specialists. What does this imply? This means that teams would have the luxury of having defensive midfielders playing as defenders and attacking midfielders playing as strikers. They would also still function as midfielders, passing the ball around quickly, closing down space, and playing a high tempo game.

Bayern MunichBack to our day, Guardiola has certainly upheld Sacchi’s saying and put his words into practice by converting defense and attack into a midfield. Guardiola’s football simply relies on midfielders. At Barcelona, he had Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Busquets, Dos Santos, and Mascherano, and no one complained of not playing as some are implying will happen at Bayern. With proper rotation and balanced motivation, all players can get a chance to prove their worth. The Catalan manager played Mascherano as a defender, Iniesta as a winger and Fabregas as a striker, just as Sacchi expected. He turned his squad into midfielders capable of playing anywhere and doing anything - pass, press, attack, and defend - unlike specialized players.

In the majority of his pre-season games, Guardiola played a 4-1-4-1 system. If he ends up relying on this system next season, that would mean he will be depending on one defensive midfielder, two central midfielders, and maybe a false 9. That is four midfielders on the pitch at the same time doing different tasks but still acting as midfielders. Bayern now have Kroos, Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Gotze, Gustavo, Thiago, Emre Can, and Hojbjerg, which means 8 players should fill 3-4 positions (depending on whether he plays with a midfielder as a false 9, or with a striker) in over 50 games. Is that midfield still overcrowded? Isn’t such competition healthy for a team playing for major trophies?

In football, some players seek money, others more playing time, while a big portion of players hunt for glory, whether it is single such as the Ballon D’or or collective such as a major tournament. When a player reaches a place in his career where nothing matters more than holding a Champions League title, achieving a historic treble or even a double, they would most definitely, and willingly, sacrifice certain things such as more minutes on the field. In small teams, it’s more important to sustain a certain balance in the squad, between achieving mediocre targets and having a satisfied team. Meanwhile, in bigger teams, the most important thing is the collective achievements, realized through having a sufficient number of world-class players capable of fairly competing to win a starting place.

Guardiola doesn’t rely on one system only, he always experiments. “Javier Martinez can play at center-back, he played very well there with Athletic,” stated a confident Guardiola. Such an alteration would definitely free up a spot in midfield. Robben, Ribery, Muller, Shaqiri, and maybe even Gotze will challenge for a spot on the two wings. What is certain is that Guardiola is unpredictable when it comes to squad selection, and what is even more certain is that a manager of Pep’s caliber will relish seeing his outstanding players battle it out for a starting spot.

After all, in four years with Barcelona, he has never played the same team twice in a row. That is because he makes sure to make the most out of every talent in his squad, be it through player rotation, positional interchange or tactical shifts. Options are what Guardiola seeks, and Thiago’s arrival gives him exactly that. In any given team, under any given manager’s guidance, abundance in players at a certain position might cause problems such as dissatisfaction and disillusionment. But in a team such as Bayern Munich and under Pep’s guidance, the wealth in talents is going to be more than welcome.

Written by Hassan Chakroun

Is a Spell of Bayern Munich Dominance on the Way?

Bayern MunichThe 2012/13 season saw Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich side win a historic treble, kicking off much speculation that we were about to see a Bayern side returning to the glory days of many years gone by.

Alongside a domestic double of the Bundesliga title and the DFB-Pokal, they also won the UEFA Champions League against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, avenging the defeat in the final a year before against Chelsea on Bayern’s own ground, the Allianz Arena. With Heynckes having already announced his retirement earlier in the season, he couldn’t have asked for a better send-off than the one he received from his side in the end.

Winning a league title in any big league is a huge achievement, and Bayern deserve credit for securing the 23rd title in their history. However, they deserve special credit for the way in which they won it. After all 34 games had been played, Bayern finished on 91 points, 25 clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund, in a remarkable season. FC Hollywood also scored 98 goals and conceded just 18 on their way to the title, a feat matched by few teams over the years.

There was also a number of emphatic results throughout the campaign, such as the 9-2 rout of Hamburg and 6-1 wins over Werder Bremen and Stuttgart. Now, these teams are understandably much weaker than Bayern, but not to the level shown by the scoreline, which just shows how good Bayern were domestically last season. These weren’t just one-offs either; Die Bayern scored 5 or more in league matches on six occasions throughout the campaign, and I think you’d have to go a fair way to find a better record in the same standard of league.

The highest point of Bayern’s season had to be their 7-0 drubbing of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final over the two legs. When these two giants of world football, I expected Barcelona to emerge on top as the victors, as you do whenever Barcelona are playing, even against sides this good. I knew we’d be in for a great couple of games too, although I certainly wasn’t expecting this to happen.

A Thomas Muller double, alongside goals from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben, gave Bayern a 4-0 lead after the first leg in Germany. The entire football world were in shock; since when do Barcelona crumble? However much criticism the Spaniards received in that game, you can’t take away from the Germans’ performance, as they played magnificently, deservedly romping to victory.

There was then much talk as to whether Barcelona would be able to pull off one of football’s greatest ever comebacks in the second leg at the Camp Nou, however the odds on that were huge. I did, however, expect Barca to put up a fight, and at least win this leg. What happened? Goals from Robben and Muller sandwiched a Pique own goal, sending the football world into bedlam again.

Bayern MunichIn a way, this was even more of a shock than the first leg. Barcelona, supposedly the greatest side to have ever lived, had been systematically dismantled home and away by Bayern Munich in a 7-0 triumph. People were in disbelief as to how it could happen, me included. However, I now believe it was just a sign that Bayern Munich are returning to the glory days of players such as Franz Beckenbauer.

With Heynckes set to retire, Bayern had to go about looking for his successor, and to my surprise, appointed one before their current one had even head out of the door. What was this new man’s name? Josep Guardiola of Spain, better known as Pep to his friends. The former Barcelona man, who was supposedly taking a year’s sabbatical from the game after resigning from Barcelona at the end of the 2011-12 season, had been appointed as the new man to take Bayern forward in a signing that shocked many.

The very fact that Guardiola has chosen to make the move to Germany shows the progress that Bayern are making as a club to return to those old heights. The 42-year-old is a manager of unimaginable pedigree, having won almost everything in offer in his stint at Barcelona, and it was a shock to many when he decided to resign from his club last year. However, with great ability comes huge expectations. The Bayern fans will be expecting a huge amount of success from their new coach, and I am predicting him to bring it with his traditional possession style of play that was so successful at the Camp Nou, tearing teams apart on many occasions.

As in any successful squad, there is always a core of players that are vital to the team, and are vital to any success that the team may have. I believe that there are five of these players at Bayern, running right through the spine of the team. Starting off with Manuel Neuer; the goalkeeper signed from Schalke in 2011 and has been an integral part of Bayern’s side since then, keeping 21 clean sheets in the league last season and showcasing why he is one of the top keepers in world football.

Next, we have Philipp Lahm, who has been ever-present in the Bayern side since starting with them in 2003. He has now made nearly 300 league appearances for the side, and is the captain and a popular figure among both players and fans. Bastain Schweinsteiger is another player who has spent the entirety of his senior career with Die Bayern, making 299 appearances in the league since 2002. He is now a key, creative part of a Bayern side full to the brim with world-class quality.

Frank Ribery is a player who is starting to reach his prime now, having been with the club since 2007 and making over 150 league appearances. He was crucial in Bayern’s treble win last year, and still has a couple of good seasons in him before he steps aside for a younger player to come through. Finally, we come to Thomas Muller, Bayern’s top scorer in all competitions last season, with 23 goals. Despite being just 23, he is an essential part of both Bayern’s side and the German national team’s, and will remain so for years to come, maybe even becoming one of the world’s best players.

ThiagoSummer is always an exciting time, as the comings and goings can decide who comes out on top after a long and arduous league campaign. We saw it in the Premier League last year, with the signing of Robin Van Persie being the reason Manchester United won their 20th league title. Bayern have taken very little time in going about their business, signing two of Europe’s best young midfielders and becoming the front-runners for one of German football’s leading strikers to sign next summer.

Bayern Munich’s latest signing is Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, Guardiola’s former club. He was confirmed to be joining after the new manager expressed a big interest in the youngster that Manchester United had been rumored to be chasing for some time. However, Guardiola persuaded the midfielder he had previously managed at the Camp Nou to move to the Allianz Arena instead of Old Trafford, once they paid his release clause. It is without a doubt a fantastic signing for Bayern and will allow Thiago to develop properly. Given that Guardiola came out to the press and stated his interest in the 22-year-old assures me that he will be given the chances in the Bayern team to prove his worth alongside the banks of quality Bayern also possess.

However, that isn’t the biggest signing that Bayern have made this summer. This other signing is none other then Mario Gotze (from Borussia Dortmund), who joined after Bayern paid his release clause a few weeks ago. He is one of Germany’s rising stars, and has been a key figure in the Dortmund side over the last couple of years. Dortmund are very disappointed to have lost one of their star players to a rival, and I think it signifies how far they have to go as a club to reach the size of their Bavarian rivals. For me, the allure of turning out in that red shirt is bigger than turning out in the yellow one of Dortmund.

Bayern also look set to sign another Dortmund player next summer, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who was a revelation last season for his club and has attracted the attentions of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, such as Manchester United and City as well as Chelsea. However, the 24-year-old favors a move to Bavaria, and looks set to sign on a free transfer when his current contract expires next summer. Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp has even gone as far in recent times as to say he expects his star man upfront to sign with the treble winners next year. This will be a further blow to the club, but serves as a reinforcement that Dortmund are much smaller than Bayern, and it’ll take a long time to change that.

Bayern MunichPre-season matches are always focused upon in preparation for the new season and can provide a good view of things to come at times. However, they can often be unreliable, with results not reflecting competitive games, usually down to a lack of fitness. I am taking a good look at Bayern’s friendlies this year in order to ascertain what kind of tactics Guardiola will be employing with his new club. So far, he has faced six teams and scored a huge 50 goals throughout these six encounters. In fairness, they were all against much weaker sides, but it is still a good way to look at how Guardiola will have his charges playing, and it seems he wants them in a similar fashion as he did his players at Barcelona: playing possession football. We saw how well it worked in La Liga; now it’s time to see the effect it has in the Bundesliga.

If a side wants to dominate year after year, it has to have young talent in the ranks ready to come in and make an impact. Many of the top teams such as Manchester United and Barcelona possess this, and Bayern Munich are no exception. Players such as David Alaba are already big parts of the side, often starting ahead of older players in the same position. There are also players like the Swiss Xherdan Shaqiri and Emre Can, who are on the fringes of the first-team and are ready to take their rightful place in the side over the next couple of seasons. They are in the meantime benefiting from knowledge passed on to them from their more experienced teammates.

Most likely, both Thiago and Mario Gotze will come into the Bayern squad and play a big part in the first-team next season. Gotze seems set to lead the line up front, biding time until the arrival of Lewandowski next summer, and Thiago will fit into the central midfield role, playing an attacking game. This young talent collectively has a phenomenal level of potential, and will help Bayern stay on top for a long time to come.

Despite the strength in the Bayern ranks, I still believe there are a couple of areas that could be improved on. For example, I might look for possible successors to Philpp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. As brilliant as these players are, they aren’t getting any younger, with both being in their late twenties now. This means they’ll only have a couple more years at the top of their game, before they have to hand the baton on to someone else.

In Schweinsteiger’s case, this won’t be that difficult, as Bayern possess a wealth of talent already in that area of the pitch; I think that Thiago, their newest signing, could be the one in line to be his replacement, although I feel he would want to start off as a first-choice player much sooner than that. For Lahm, it is a bit more difficult; there are very few good, young right-backs in the game at the moment, and even less who would be able to live up to the standards of Lahm in their careers. You cannot underestimate Lahm’s influence on that team, and it will take a very special player to take his place.

Bayern MunichIt’s not just the Barcelona results that caught my eye for Bayern Munich in the Champions League over the last couple of years. In this year’s competition alone, they beat Italian champions Juvetus and Arsenal alongside Barcelona on their way to winning the crown. In the 2011-12 edition, in which they also reached the final, they beat Manchester City and Real Madrid on the road to the final on their own turf.

No team can cause that many upsets and get into two consecutive Champions League finals without having some serious degree of quality about them, both as a team and as individual players. Thankfully, Bayern Munich haven’t fallen into the trap of selling off their best players, then not replacing them with players of the same quality. In fact, they have pretty much kept the same side, which is important, as stability provides a good platform to work from in order to achieve success over a long period of time.

So, are we now headed for a period of time when Bayern will dominate European and world football? I think so, yes. Not only do they possess one of the strongest sides in the world right now, but they are constantly attracting new, young talent such as Thiago and Gotze that will allow the good times to keep rolling long after the current generation have hung up their boots.

They may have a new man at the helm, but apart from that, they won’t change too much, and the signs so far have shown that Guardiola is the right man for the job. Over the last couple of years with Heynckes, they’ve shown they can easily beat the best sides both domestically and at the international level, which is what will decide the success Bayern has in the future.

The club also has some great fans in tow (attracted to the criminally low ticket prices, with the cheapest season ticket being less than £70 for all Bundesliga matches), that haven’t always had the best of times in the last three or four years. They came second to Borussia Dortmund in two of the last three league campaigns and lost two out of their last three Champions League finals (in 2010 and 2012). But now, Bayern Munich look to be entering a long period of continued success under one of the world’s best coaches of modern day football.

Written by Ben Warner

Borussia Dortmund Superstar Mario Götze Signs for Bayern Munich in €37m Deal

Mario Gotze“Everyone knows how comfortable I feel in Dortmund. The club is far from finished with their recent resurgence. And I want to be part of this development.” -Mario Götze | 27 March, 2012

This quote was said by Mario Götze himself, answering questions in an interview after signing his contract extension with Borussia Dortmund that would keep him at the club until 2016. However, there was always one area of his contract that stood out that kept major clubs around Europe and Germany keeping a close eye on this talented players progress.

This was, of course, his buy out clause, which was €37 million, and on the 23 April 2013, Bayern Munich paid the fee for his services, making him the most expensive German player ever. It has been reported that Mario Götze will officially move to Bayern Munich at the end of this German Bundesliga season that would end an emotional spell at Dortmund, which started when he was just eight years of age.

This account is going to focus on what Mario Götze has done in his short career so far, and whether this will be the right move for him in terms of progressing his career and molding him into the perfect player. This article will also concentrate on how Borussia Dortmund will recover from this loss and whether BVB can still challenge Bayern Munich at the top to continue the rivalry football fans love to observe.

There is no doubt about it, Mario Götze is a credit to Borussia Dortmund’s youth academy, as he is a distinctive player coming through the ranks with a crop of talented football players. The current Dortmund number 10 made his first appearance in the Bundesliga in November 2009 against Mainz 05, after being put on in place of Jakub Błaszczykowski.

Mario GotzeJürgen Klopp was aware of Götze’s talent and upgraded him to the Borussia Dortmund first team, which has proved to be a wise decision. That year, Dortmund won the German Bundesliga, and Mario Götze played his part in making this happen.

There was a slight delay on Mario Götze’s progression however, due to him having problems with his hip; he was out of action for a while before returning to action against Borussia Mönchengladbach in April 2012. The return was perfect timing for Borussia Dortmund and Mario Götze, as there were huge games coming up.

That season Götze was part of a Borussia Dortmund team that broke the German Bundesliga record for acquiring the highest points tally in one season. To further this great season for Borussia Dortmund, they went on to beat Bayern Munich in the final of the DFB Pokal with the score of 5-2, however Mario Götze only made the substitutes.

This season has proved to Mario Götze’s most influential, however as he has played a huge part in Borussia Dortmund’s season, even though they have not been able to keep up with the force that is Bayern Munich. Götze has played 2028 minutes in the Bundesliga this season, scoring 10 goals in the league and gaining 8 assists. He has also created 138 chances for his Dortmund teammates and had 56 attempts on goal.

Götze has appeared in 28 games this Bundesliga campaign with 23 being in the starting line up. It just shows how influential Mario Götze is, with him touching the ball 1487 times and him being fouled 63 is miraculous. His pass succession rate is also 85.8%, which proves his style of play of being a short sharp passer of the ball.

Mario Gotze‘Götzinho’ has not only made a huge impact domestically, but also on the European stage too. Borussia Dortmund have advanced into the UEFA Champions League semi-final and will play Real Madrid for a trip to Wembley in May. He has been influential in wins against Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid, and Malaga in this Champions League campaign. He has scored 2 goals in the UEFA Champions League this season and gained 4 assists, proving Dortmund’s dominance in Europe.

With Mario Götze moving to Bayern Munich however, you have to focus the attention on Borussia Dortmund and how they will recover from this huge loss. Jürgen Klopp has been seen taking the Götze loss in good vein with his recent press conference (see video below), but did mention he was annoyed at the timing of the transfer as he feels it may disrupt the team’s preparation against Real Madrid:

“It could have been worse; it could have happened a couple of hours before the game. But on a scale of one to 10, this is a nine. We all know why it has come out now. We don’t know why the people who have leaked this have done so at such a delicate time. We can only speculate but we are all making the same suppositions.”

He also made it aware that the BVB fans should not single out Mario Götze and that the atmosphere at the ‘Signal Iduna Park’ should be special as always. ‘Kloppo’ also stated that he could not stand in Mario Götze’s way, because he described Pep Guardiola as being a ‘special coach’ and that Götze was the main player he wanted at Bayern Munich.

But assessing whether Borussia Dortmund can recover from this is crazy due to their talent at the club. Marco Reus is another player of fantastic ability, and one you could argue that he has had an even better season than Mario Götze. Rumors have also been flying around that Robert Lewandowski is leaving, but he may stay to see his contract out as he only has one year left on his current deal.

Mario GotzeBut you have to gaze at what these players Jürgen Klopp has brought to the club and what they are worth now compared to when they entered the club. ‘Kloppo’ has brought the likes of Lewandowski for €4.5 million, Hummels and Gündogan both for €4 million, Blaszczykowski for €3 million, Piszczek for free, and other players coming through the clubs fantastic youth system. It needs to be remembered that the club nearly went into bankruptcy in 2005, and that times are far better than what they were.

Jürgen Klopp can again achieve this and he probably has a few irons in the fire on who to bring in next season as he has the task of replacing Mario Götze. Super Mario will still give his all for the rest of his Dortmund career and will always have them in a special place in his heart.

Written by James Williams

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk: Comfortable Win Sees Dortmund Advance

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Shakhtar DonetskAfter a tight draw in the first leg, Shakhtar set out to Germany to try and get back the away goals they had conceded and turn things around. Unfortunately for them, however, the BvB Stadion Dortmund is one of the hardest places in Europe to play at when you’re trying to get things back!

The German hosts went into this game on the back of a comfortable win against Hannover in the German Bundesliga the previous weekend, and although Hannover weren’t as tough as Shakhtar were expected to be, the win was a very encouraging one. Shakhtar, in the same manner, had earned a great victory over Volyn Lutsk in the Ukrainian Premier Liga the previous weekend, and so they were also in high hopes for their trip to Germany.

The hosts had, no doubt, the upper hand going into this game because of the 2 away goals they had managed to score in the first leg of this match, meaning that even if they would set out to defend, they had themselves a spot. Jurgen Klopp, however, is not one to opt to play the underdog in any game. In this situation, he didn’t even plan a defensive game.  Mircea Lucescu, in the same manner, planned to give double of what he had given in the first leg, knowing that this would be the decider for his side.

For the first half of this game, the hosts were more in control as they tried to get an early lead over their opponents. In as early as the 12th minute, they had their first good chance from a Lewandowski effort, but Pyatov was there to save the day to Shakhtar’s delight.

13 minutes later, however, Pyatov was defeated when Felipe Santana delivered the hosts’ first one of the night with a fine header from a Mario Gotze corner; this was his fourth assist for his side in their European campaign this season.

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Shakhtar DonetskBut they were still not satisfied just yet! Just 4 minutes later, Gotze was almost part of another assist, but it didn’t work like they wanted.

On the 37th minute, however, Mario Gotze got a chance to score one himself and took it well! 2-0 for Dortmund, and even before halftime, it seemed to be all over for Shakhtar, who had their heads down at this point. The man of the half for Dortmund was certainly Mario Gotze. On the Shakhtar side, it had to be Kucher, because of his evident hard work.

Mircea Lucescu now had to score three goals in just 45 minutes to get his side through on away goals, but Dortmund weren’t about to let him even try! He took off Taison, who’d been above average for his side, for Douglas Costa at the half to see what he would contribute to his side, and almost immediate impact was seen as he had an attempt just two minutes later.

The whole Shakhtar team was buzzing to score and try to get something back, playing faster in the second half, but Dortmund were still very strong. 59 minutes in, Pyatov had a bit of trouble keeping the ball, and the hosts had their third of the night, courtesy of Błaszczykowski! 30 minutes to now score 4 goals was simply not enough!

Douglas Costa kept shining while trying to look for some sort of consolation for his side, but it was all in vain. Dortmund goal-keeper and captain, Roman Weidenfeller, was as determined to keep a clean sheet as his side was to get a win. The last 20 minutes of the game saw the visitors trying to get something, but before long, Damir Skomina blew the final whistle and Dortmund were comfortably through to the Champions League Quarter Finals and deservedly so!

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Shakhtar DonetskStatistic-wise, the hosts had 3 more chances over their visitors and had more possession overall. Both teams had very good chances, but Dortmund took theirs better and were undoubtedly the better side. Shakhtar Donetsk were the squad to pick up the only yellow card issued during this game. No players were sent off during this match.

Jurgen Klopp and Mircea Lucescu lined up the following squads:

Borussia Dortmund Starting XI:

Weidenfeller (c), Subotic, Piszczek, Felipe Santana, Schmelzer, Gotze, Reus, Bender, Gundogan, Błaszczykowski, Lewandowski

Subs: Langerak, Letiner, Bittencourt, Schieber, Grosskreutz, Nuri Sahin, and Kehl

Shakhtar Donetsk Starting XI:

Pyatov, Kucher, Rat, Rakitskiy, Fernandinho, Teixeira, Srna (c), Hubschman, Taison, Luis Adriano, Mkhitaryan

Subs: Kanibolotskiy, Kryvstov, Kobin, Gai, Eduardo, Douglas Costa, and Stepanenko

Final Score: Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (Agg: 5-2)

Felipe Santana 31′, Gotze 37′, Błaszczykowski 59′

Quarter Finals

Having eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund are through to the Quarter Finals. Their opponents will be announced at the draw on March 15th in Nyon.

Written by Ange Marline