The Citizen (KZN)

Dortmund inspired by home fans


– Borussia Dortmund host Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfin­al tie tonight looking for inspiratio­n from their Westfalens­tadion fortress to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

Winners in 1997 and finalists in 2013, Dortmund are somehow still in with a shot at returning to the semifinals despite a terrible start in Madrid, with Edin Terzic’s overawed side having trailed by two goals after 30 minutes.

Dortmund composed themselves and were arguably the better side for the remaining 60 minutes but, despite a crucial Sebastien Haller (right) goal, will rue two slapstick defensive mistakes which gave Atletico the upper hand.

As it often is, Dortmund’s trump card is their 80 000-strong Westfalens­tadion – Germany’s biggest stadium and one of the largest in European football.

The club have not lost there since November 2021, having faced the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle in that time.

Despite a poor domestic season which sees the Champions League regulars currently out of the top four and fighting to qualify next season, Dortmund have been impressive in Europe.

Tipped for relegation to the Europa League or worse, Dortmund emerged first in a tough group containing PSG, Milan and Newcastle.

Central to their Champions League form has been the Westfalens­tadion cauldron, which is particular­ly intimidati­ng on European nights.

Since losing to a Haller-inspired Ajax in November 2021 – the striker moved to Dortmund in the summer of 2022 – Dortmund have gone nine games unbeaten at home.

Dortmund have scored 15 goals in that time while conceding just two, demonstrat­ing their home strength on the European stage.

While often unpredicta­ble, Dortmund have been defensivel­y solid under Terzic this season – that is, until they gifted two goals to put Atletico in pole position at the Wanda Metropolit­ano last Wednesday.

Centre-back Nico Schlotterb­eck was particular­ly poor against Atletico while Mats Hummels, in fine form in Europe so far this season, also failed to impress.

Both Schlotterb­eck and Hummels, alongside 2020 Champions League winner Niklas Suele, are all hoping for a recall to Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany squad ahead of Euro 2024 on home soil.

Dortmund will be buoyed by Atletico’s poor form away from the Metropolit­ano this season.

Diego Simeone’s men have won just five from 15 in the league and Atletico have won just one of four in Europe this season.

Dortmund thumped Atletico 4-0 the last time the sides met in Germany, back in 2018-19.

Current Atletico midfielder Axel Witsel opened the scoring while Jadon Sancho, who returned to Dortmund this season on loan from Manchester United, got another.

Present-day Dortmund under Terzic are less easy on the eye but have a fighting spirit which is similar to that of Simeone’s best Atletico sides. –

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