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Dortmund who were seeded in Pot 3 have been drawn in Group D in the Champions League. Goal.com takes a look at their opponents and what they can expect from them...

ANALYSIS
By Kishen Patel


Real Madrid CF


Performance in last year's tournament: Lost in the semifinal against Bayern Munich

How they qualified this year: Winners of La Liga to earn automatic qualification

The Manager

Jose Mourinho last won the Champions League with Inter Milan by beating Bayern 2-0 at the Bernabeu. The ‘Special One’ has an excellent record of trophies in four different European leagues and has won everything there was to win in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. He’s currently in quest for his third Champions League medal and Madrid’s Tenth. Mourinho is one of the most famous non playing people associated with football and is highly regarded as well. He may have his outbursts and antics but he is the “Only One” at the moment.

Formation and Tactics

4-2-3-1

Real Madrid use the 4-2-3-1 system like many other teams. Mourinho uses either Higuain or Benzema up front with a midfield of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria. Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso form the midfield fulcrum and act as a link with the defense. Alonso thrives in his deep lying playmaker role as almost all attacks are initiated from his precise passing. Counter attacking is one of Madrid’s strengths and they put up a fair threat from set pieces as well with the likes of Pepe, Ramos and Ronaldo all dangerous in the air. With Kaka, Modric and Essien on the bench, Madrid have enough of players to choose for their midfield.


Expectations:

Madrid are always favorites to win the Champions League. They are chasing their Tenth triumph and will leave no stone unturned in trying to do so. With Mourinho at helm, Madrid can go all the way this year after consecutive semifinal exits in the previous two seasons. Definitely the team to beat in this group but they have to be vary of the threat posed by City and Dortmund. Any slip can/will prove costly.


  Man to Watch - Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is by far the most dangerous player at Madrid. The Portuguese is a well oiled machine and always gives his all on the pitch. Be it from open play, corners, set pieces or penalties; Ronaldo is a threat from any distance and can change the game by scoring at important intervals. The Galacticos will need their most influential player in top form if they are to brush aside their fellow champion opponents.



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

4-2-3-1

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.


Expectations:

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.


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

4-3-3

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.

Expectations:

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, the going will be tough for the Dutch champions.


  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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