Why Mourinho has no choice but to attack from the word go

Ahead of the crucial second leg of the semi-final at the Bernabeu, Goal lists down various reasons as to why ‘The Special One’ has to go on the offensive from the kick-off…

Attack is the best form of defence. It’s a clichéd saying but certainly holds true for Real Madrid tonight as they seek to overturn the 4-1 defeat at the Signal Iduna Park from the first leg in order to progress into the final, their first in the last decade or so.

The math is simple – Madrid needs to score three goals and hope to keep a clean sheet. However one must highlight an important statistic here – the Los Blancos have let in a minimum of one goal in each game of the Champions League this season except for the win over Galatasaray at home where they downed them 3-0.

Ahead of the first leg, Mourinho certainly didn’t have the best personnel and he would miss the services of Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo for the second leg too. On the bright side, he does have Angel Di Maria who is fresh from a top performance in the derby against Atletico Madrid where he had a hand in both goals scored. His free-kick was diverted into his own net by Juan Fran and later he scored the winner with an angled shot which beat Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Di Maria's return will be a boost for Mourinho

The Argentine’s dribbling and an ability to cut inside adds another dimension to Madrid’s play. He uses the width of the pitch to stretch play and carve open the opposition back four. He is one of the most fouled players on the pitch which hands them an opportunity to test the Dortmund defence from set-pieces. Not to forget that Di Maria, alongside Mario Gotze, has the highest number of assists from among the teams left in the competition.

Mesut Ozil was found wanting as he never tracked back to help Ramos in defence and neither created much when going forward in the first leg. Di Maria does offer protection to the full-back which adds to the solidity to their defence.

Mourinho is likely to deploy Michael Essien as a right-back to negate the influence of Marco Reus who tends to run straight at the opposition defence often leading them to commit fouls. It must be remembered that Essien, in the away tie at the group stage against Dortmund, started as a left back and had a nightmarish outing having to chase back for most of the game. However at the Bernabeu when he was deployed in the middle of the park after the break, his dirty work allowed his team-mates, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil to focus purely on facilitating attacks.

The Ghanaian is no stranger to playing in the right-back slot as he famously did for Chelsea back in the 2007-08 season when they reached the Champions League final. There was a lot of criticism when Essien joined Madrid and Esteban Granero was allowed to move to QPR as critics suggested that the local lad should have been part of the set-up instead of bringing in another of Mourinho’s former wards.

Essien will need to put in a shift of a lifetime

‘The Bison’s’ power, drive and relentless work rate is phenomenal and it is time he puts in a top performance for Mourinho to show that his loan move from Chelsea wasn’t a bad deal to shut the critics once and for all.

The Spanish media believe that Luka Modric, and not Sami Khedira, is to partner Alonso in the central midfield in their bid to keep the ball. Modric was playing as an attacking midfielder in the first leg and didn’t do much to justify his selection. However it seems Mourinho wants to utilize his playmaking skills from a deeper role and also his shots from distance are a threat on any given day.

Madrid are not solid defensively and knowing this, Mourinho would do well to attack right from the onset to give his side the best chance to progress into the final.

Ozil, back in his preferred role in the centre as an attacker, will need to improve his work rate and treat crucial through-balls to the forwards. He possesses exceptional skill on the ball and Madrid needs him to be at his creative best.

As much as Madrid players would want to disagree, there is a Cristiano Ronaldo dependency and it is time for the rest of the pack such as Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema to deliver in crucial matches of the season.

Madrid never really came out of the first gear last week and they will need to be on top of the proceedings if they want to get the better of this young and energetic Dortmund unit.

Will Madrid’s attack deliver on the night?

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