Know Real Madrid's rivals in Champions League Group D

Real Madrid who were seeded in Pot 1 have been drawn in Group D in the Champions League. takes a look at their opponents and what they can expect from them...
By Kishen Patel

Manchester City

Performance in last year's tournament: Finished third in the group, didn't progess to knockout round

How they qualified this year: Winners of the Premier League to earn automatic qualification

The Manager

Roberto Mancini was the coach of Inter Milan during the Nerazzuri’s successful years of 2004-08. Mancini thrice guided the Inter team to the Scudetto and won the Coppa Italia twice but failure to win the Champions League was the main reason for his sacking then. A Cup specialist, Mancini has never failed to reach the semi-finals of a major national cup competition in every season he has been a manager from 2002 to 2012. Mancini was unveiled as Manchester City’s new manager on 19 December 2009 and has been in charge since then. He guided the Citizens to FA Cup glory during the 2010-11 season and brought the League title to the Etihad Stadium after 44 years during the 2011-12 season.

Formation and Tactics


City use the 4-2-3-1 formation featuring Yaya Toure and Rodwell/Javi Garcia as fulcrum and allowing the more creative pair of Samir Nasri and David Silva to put their mobility to good use. Carlos Tevez plays just behind lone striker Sergio Aguero. City focus on monopolizing the possession especially at home and like to pressure their opponents as well. The presence of captain Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko are always a threat from set pieces. City’s bench is extremely strong as they have a wealth of talent to choose from. Balotelli with his power and trickery can be extremely dangerous. The pair of Tevez and Aguero have developed an excellent understanding between themselves and many times have opened the defense through neat one-two passing.


They were disappointed to be knocked out of Europe’s premier competition last year in the group stage but they are favourites to qualify this year and reach the quarter finals at the least. Mancini has never tasted Champions League success nor has City so this will be a first if the Citizens manage to triumph.

  Man to Watch - Yaya Toure

With likes of Silva, Nasri, Tevez and Aguero playing together its difficult to single out one person but Yaya Toure has been extremely influential for City. Yaya provides the necessary direction for the team and often starts play deep in his own half. His versatility also comes in handy if City want to be more aggressive with a 4-1-3-2 formation as Toure can function as an attacking midfielder as well. He often pops up with crucial goals such as the opener against Newcastle in the penultimate game of the last season.

Borussia Dortmund

Performance in last year's tournament: Finished fourth in the group, eliminated.

How they qualified this year: Winners of the Bundesliga and earned automatic qualification.

The Manager

Jurgen Klopp started his managerial career at Mainz 05 where he remained at the helm for seven years. He guided the Mainz team to their first ever Bundesliga experience but eventually got relegated during the 2006-07 season. He was approached by Dortmund in 2008 and since then he has guided them to DFB Super Cup, consecutive Bundesliga titles and the Pokal in 2011-12. He was named as the German Manager of the Year on two occasions. He is also credited for Dortmund’s first ever domestic double last season.
Formation and Tactics


Dortmund also use the 4-2-3-1 system with Lewandowski  playing as a lone striker and Reus playing in the hole behind him. Klopp uses Groskreutz and Blaszczykowski as wingers with Gotze coming usually on as a substitute. The central pair of Kehl and Gundogan sit deep and initiate play especially the latter who can pick precise passes or change flanks with ease. Sven Bender seems to have recovered from an injury and should be available for selection. Full backs are crucial to BVB’s style of play as they try and add an extra dimension to their flanks and launch quick counter attacks. Dortmund also sometimes sit deep, track each player and try to suppress their passing. With the versatility of Gotze, Reus, Groskreutz and Blaszczykowski, Klopp has the advantage of mixing things in midfield.


They are surely a team to watch out for as they can upset any other side in the group. With Madrid and City for company, life will be tough for Dortmund but they can surprise the big two and book a place in the next round. Though not much is expected from them in Europe, they have the potential to reach the quarterfinals and then ride their luck a little.

  Man to Watch - Marco Reus

Marco Reus has been a sensation in Germany during the 2011-12 season. The 23 year old can function on the flanks as well as in the hole and was snapped up by Dortmund after the departure of Kagawa. Though Klopp has been reluctant to use Gotze and Reus at the same time, he could do so in the future in order to add extra creativity to his side.

Ajax Amsterdam

Performance in last year's tournament: They were eliminated after finishing fourth in Group D.

How they qualified this year: Won the Eredivisie and earned automatic qualification
The Manager

Appointed as manager of Ajax on 6 December 2010, Frank De Boer is in his first managerial job. The vastly experienced Dutch defender has already won the Champions League and the UEFA Cup with Ajax as a player. Since his appointment as manager, he has won two consecutive league titles with Ajax and restored them as Eredivisie champions. De Boer has already faced Mourinho in the Champions League group stage last season with the latter triumphing on both occasions.
Formation and Tactics


Ajax have improvised with the 4-3-3 formation under De Boer. Poulsen functions as a holding midfielder and allows the creative duo of Schone and Eriksen to dictate play. Boerrigter and Sana can play on the flanks and allow captain Siem de Jong to play as a centre forward. With no big name signings this summer, coach De Boer has kept his faith on home grown talent.

The absence of Jan Vertonghen in the centre-back position might come back to hurt Ajax in the Champions League. However the addition of Ryan Babel and Christian Poulsen will come in handy for the Dutch champions as the duo are seasoned campaigners.


Ajax finished third in their group last season and had to settle for the Europa League spot. The four time winners aren’t contenders for the big prize but they do have the potential to reach the next round. With Madrid, City and Dortmund being formidable opponents, it will indeed be tough for the Dutch giants.

  Man to Watch - Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen has quickly become an influential member for the Ajax first team. The Danish playmaker’s rise has been credited to his consistency and an ability to set up goals. Eriksen is crafty from dead ball situations and has the knack to assist teammates to score. He must perform well if Ajax are to perfom well.

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