Goal record a Real possibility for Tuchel and his talented trio
Borussia Dortmund can set a new Champions League record at Real Madrid on Wednesday if the likes of Marco Reus, Ousmane Dembele or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score.
Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund arrives at Santiago Bernabeu just one shy of the 20-goal record three teams — Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona — tallied in the Champions League group stages.
Two of those — United, in 1998-99 and Real in 2013-14 — went on to win that season’s European title.
Dortmund, which won the 1997 Champions League and was runner-up in 2013, holds a two-point advantage over Los Blancos in Group F.
The winner of Wednesday’s clash in Madrid will qualify top of the table.
Star-studded Real, spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo, presents a formidable challenge at home, but Dortmund is in buoyant mood.
It finished 2-2 when the teams met in Dortmund last September as Andre Schurrle’s late strike rescued the host after Ronaldo and Raphael Varane scored for Real and Aubameyang netted for Borussia.
But Dortmund was boosted two weeks ago by the return of Germany winger Marco Reus after six months out with the adductor injury that ruled him out of Euro 2016.
The 27-year-old grabbed two goals, with a third later credited as an own-goal, and set up two more as Dortmund trounced Legia Warsaw 8-4 in Germany two weeks ago in a record Champions League score.
Reus also weighed in with three assists in Dortmund’s 4-1 Bundesliga thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
“The injury, which meant a six-month break, has made him a more mature player,” said Dortmund coach Tuchel.
“Now Marco is back and it’s fantastic the way he has returned.”
Gabon international Aubameyang also bagged a brace against Gladbach to make him the league’s top scorer with 15 goals.
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 that set up Aubameyang for his second goal as Dortmund warmed up for its Madrid test in impressive fashion.
“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, and he is effective in all situations.”
Dortmund’s current tally of 19 Champions League goals is boosted by its results against Legia.
It 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 talented winger announced his arrival with a superb goal in a 4-1 drubbing of Manchester United on a preseason tour of China.
Dembele has gone on to produce four goals and 10 assists in all competitions.
Aubameyang has taken the 19-year-old Dembele under his wing, helping himwith finishing and defending.
Dembele has been guilty of giving up possession too easily, especially in Dortmund’s 2-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt last month.
However, 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.”
The injury, which meant a sixmonth break, has made him a more mature player.” Thomas Tuchel, Dortmund coach, on Marco Reus
Middlesbrough’s Marten de Roon (left) fights for the ball against Hull City’s Samuel Clucas (center) during Boro’s 1-0 English Premier League win at Riverside Stadium on Monday. A Gaston Ramirez header earned the Teessiders victory.
Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus celebrates scoring in an 8-4 romp against Legia Warsaw last month. The German winger will face a stiffer challenge in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Real Madrid.