It perhaps says something about the ignorance of the average British observer that Borussia Dortmund’s exhilarating display away to Manchester City came as a surprise to many.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are back-to-back Bundesliga winners and have proven over the past 24 months to be the best team in Germany.
Just a few weeks before Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to become European champions in May, Dortmund were dismantling the Bavarians 5-2 in the DFB Pokal final. Die Schwarzgelben are a side with serious individual talent shrewdly shaped into a polished outfit by Klopp.
Only a contentious late penalty at the Etihad Stadium cost Dortmund all three points and kept City within touching distance of the Germans and Real Madrid at the summit of Group D. The nature of this group means that even such an engaging performance may eventually count for little.
The full extent of failing to hold on to a six-point lead over the Premier League champions won’t be revealed until after the next couple of rounds of fixtures and a double header against Madrid.
The Spanish champions are in the box seat after defeating City first up but any defeat in this group will have consequences, with everybody likely to make hay at Ajax’s expense. Away draws against each other may be the name of the game and given what’s at stake, 13/5 for a sharing of the spoils at Signal Iduna Park this evening seems nicely priced.
With a trip to Manchester scheduled for the end of November, Jose Mourinho may also see it as a point gained given Madrid’s awful record in Germany. Los Blancos have won just once in 23 games in Germany and were downed 2-1 by Bayern at the Allianz Arena in last year’s semi-final first leg.
But reading into past meetings with little relevance can be a misguided game and that record is made less consequential by Dortmund being without a win in their last five home matches with Spanish sides. Given all that, I’m inclined to toss the history books aside and look towards the here and now.
Beyond the majesty they created for themselves against Roberto Mancini’s men, Dortmund have been struggling and it’s just two wins from seven in all competitions. They were beaten at the Signal Iduna Park by near neighbours Schalke on Saturday and only just scraped past whipping boys Ajax on matchday one.
Since returning from an eight-year Champions League sabbatical at the beginning of the previous campaign, the Bundesliga holders have won just two of their eight group games.
For Madrid, things are running just as smoothly as ever. An early-season wobble has long since been curtailed and it’s six wins from seven of late, the only anomaly being a 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
If the hosts can find their rhythm and get Die Sudtribune singing then Real could be in for a long night and 9/4 for the home win looks decent if you reckon Dortmund can find their range, while they are 3/4 to avoid defeat. However, I think City’s soft underbelly in Europe put an extra gloss on things last time out and Real won’t be as accommodating.
A price of 21/20 for the away win is short but Real’s record in the group stages over recent years has been phenomenal. Since Mourinho came to town in 2010 it’s 14 group games, 13 wins and 41 goals scored and I’m backing them to further add to that fine run of results and cement one of the qualification slots.
If you’re going for a Real win then it has to be with over 2.5 goals in the game at 9/5 and given I think both teams will score, the multiple correct score of 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 to Madrid is screaming out for a few quid at 15/4.
New customers who register with bwin are entitled to a free £20 bet and putting that on Real to prevail by one of those three scorelines will earn you £95 if successful.
If you don’t fancy a big punt on this game then there’s lots about to make this worth a space on your accumulator. Both teams to score at 53/100 looks safe enough, as does over 2.5 goals in total at 3/5.
I’ll definitely be adding Real to score in both halves to my long-list at 8/5, but for my main punt here, it’s hard to look past the 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 away triumph, especially at such an enticing price.