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Sports

AFP
December 6, 2017

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Injury-hit Dortmund face daunting task at Madrid

MADRID: Despite a slump in Real Madrid’s form, Borussia Dortmund may face a different animal as they travel to Santiago Bernabeu for the fifth time in five years on Wednesday (today).
For once, there is precious little on the line with the Germans already eliminated from the Champions League and Real certain to finish second in Group H behind Tottenham Hotspur.
A 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday left Real eight points adrift of Barcelona at the top of La Liga, having failed to win six of 14 league games so far this season. An unusual lack of firepower has hobbled the Spanish giants with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema scoring a meagre four La Liga goals combined and Gareth Bale sidelined for most of the season by a series of injuries.
But Real coach Zinedine Zidane warned Ronaldo’s critics not to write-off the Portuguese, who is expected to pick up his fifth Ballon d’Or this week.Ronaldo has scored just twice in 10 La Liga matches this season.
However, Ronaldo leads the goalscoring charts in the Champions League with eight in five games and Zidane expects that form to soon return on league duty.“He is so good that when things don’t go as he is used to then people start to talk about him,” Zidane said on Tuesday.
“He will keep trying until the goals come. Not long ago, only last year, he had a phenomenal season.“There is a long way to go, we are only nearly halfway though the season. Be careful with Cristiano.”
For Dortmund, their under-fire boss Peter Bosz will resist the urge to rush Germany winger Marco Reus back after injury.With only one win in their last ten games in all competitions, the pressure continues to mount on head coach Bosz.
His list of walking wounded is also growing with Mario Goetze, Maximilian Philipp and Gonzalo Castro out for the foreseeable future.Nevertheless, Bosz is resisting the temptation to play Reus, who must wait a little longer for his comeback from a knee injury in May.
“It

will not be Marco Reus,” replied Bosz when asked who will provide Dortmund’s goals.“But we need a win — even at Real Madrid,” added the Dutchman, whose demeanour suggests he is feeling the strain.Club bosses have said they trust Bosz to turn things around and the goal he has been set is clear — qualify for the Europa League.
“We want to keep playing in Europe, so a draw would be a cool number for us,” said CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke before flying to Madrid.“There are mixed feelings, normally a game like this would be an absolute highlight.“At the moment, both teams have their problems, we are sixth and Real are fourth,” Watzke added with a glance at the respective Bundesliga and La Liga tables.Dortmund are still waiting for a win at the Bernabeu after two draws and four defeats on previous visits.

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