This season’s Champions League quarterfinals between Dortmund and Monaco offers young, exciting players scattered across the field as these two collide for the first time in European competition.
Below we preview the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League 2016/17 between these two sides.
This tie features a pair of entertaining and compelling opponents in a battle not just for the semifinal, but for the title of official tournament dark horse.
Update: Monaco won the first leg of the Quarter final 3-2 and will have the advantage heading into the second leg.
How They’re Doing Currently:
Dortmund’s season has been riddled with crucial moments of inconsistency; BVB have failed to keep up with 2nd placed Leipzig, and their 4-0 demolition of Benfica was followed by a damaging defeat away to Hertha Berlin that lost them ground in the Bundesliga table. They, like Monaco, are also distracted on league, cup and European fronts, but with Bayern having a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the Bundesliga, it’s Thomas Tuchel’s side that arguably has the most incentive for a spirited performance to progress to the Champions League semifinal.
Despite the odds, Monaco continue to lead the summit of France’s Ligue 1, with their form impeccable, winning 7 of 8 in all competitions (their only defeat in that run coming against PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue final). The concern for coach Leonardo Jardim still remains balancing all competitions and ensuring Les Rouge et Blanc have a trophy to show for their most promising season in recent years. Their last Ligue 1 title came in 2000, and the Champions League run, while lucrative represents a complicated balancing act for this side filled with young attacking starlets.
Players to Watch:
Dortmund would have no doubt noticed the attacking prowess of their French opponents, so this immediately brings into sharp focus the importance of central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos to managing the waves of impressive goal threat at Monaco’s disposal. Julian Weigl has become Dortmund’s most important player in both helping protect the defence and dictating their most threatening attacking maneuvers from midfield. And it’ll be his superb passing range and quality in combination with the threatening runs and pace of Ousmane Dembélé that could force Monaco to spend more time focusing on their own goal rather than that of Dortmund.
Particularly for the first leg, it’s hard to understate the importance Fabinho will have in managing the midfield battle. Fabinho will have to balance managing both the passing range of Weigl and pace threat of Dembélé, without the help of teammate Tiemoué Bakayoko, whose 1st leg suspension could be massively telling in how Monaco manage Dortmund’s attack. Bakayoko could be crucial to any type of recovery of a score deficit in France. Meanwhile Kylian Mbappe remains the standout striker for Monaco (which is saying something considering some of Falcao’s performances). The young recently capped French striker is enjoying sublime form with 10 goals in his last 9, and this stage could be ideal for him to truly reinforce his growing reputation.
While Monaco have been impressive, there’s far more pressure on Dortmund to deliver in this quarterfinal, given the disappointment of last season’s Europa League exit and the lacking performances in the Bundesliga this term. Dortmund have arguably more experience of this to build on, and despite the injuries to various players in the squad, still retain the stronger defensive capabilities on paper, at least.
That said, Dortmund may feel the after-effect of their huge trip to Munich to face Bayern, and being perceived as the better side defensively doesn’t compensate for their tendency to give up chances to opponents. The German side should win, but this has the making of a goalfest in both legs.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest Football Betting Odds
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*League placings correct at time of publishing.