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Rampant Dortmund will put stuttering Real to the test

By Reuters | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-27 07:51

European champion Real Madrid heads to rampaging Borussia Dortmund for its Champions League Group F game on Tuesday in a frazzled state with its buoyant start to the season having been punctured by successive La Liga draws.

Real gave away a late equalizer to draw 2-2 at Las Palmas on Saturday, after its joint-record 16-game winning streak in La Liga was halted by Wednesday's 1-1 home stalemate against Villarreal, which saw its lead at the top cut to a point.

Dortmund, meanwhile, has been on a sizzling run since losing to RB Leipzig on Sept 10, scoring 20 goals in four straight wins against Legia Warsaw in the Champions League and Darmstadt, Wolfsburg and Freiburg in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund, who thrashed the Polish club 6-0 away in its opening group game, are second in the German top flight and on Friday equaled a club record of 24 games without defeat at home in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 win over Freiburg.

Even in the midst of Real's sensational winning run, Zinedine Zidane's side was criticised by the media for unconvincing performances and its sloppiness was punished by Las Palmas in its last La Liga outing.

Midfielder Tana hooked home a poor clearance from Real's Raphael Varane to cancel out Marco Asensio's opener and, after Karim Benzema had restored Real's lead, Sergio Araujo sneaked into the box from the left to level in the 85th minute.

Real's lacklustre displays have been compounded by the absence of midfield anchor Casemiro and influential left back Marcelo through injury and the indifferent form of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo has endured a difficult start to the season, scoring twice in four games - including against his former club Sporting in Real's 2-1 home win in its first Champions League group game - while missing three due to injury and illness.

He reacted angrily to being substituted by Zidane with 18 minutes left at Las Palmas.

Striker Alvaro Morata, however, said there were still plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

"We still haven't lost and we are still top of the league. The important thing is how you finish and we have to win all our games if possible," he told reporters on Saturday.

"We have to keep working and now focus our minds on the Champions League."

Eleven-time European champion Real has a dismal record in Germany, having won four out of 30 competitive games in the country, and has lost on its last three visits to Dortmund.

Dortmund is waiting on the fitness of its Spain centerback Marc Bartra and Colombian forward Adrian Ramos, who both missed Friday's win over Freiburg.

Its hitman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, finished the game with a knock although the Gabon striker, who has four goals in his last three games, said it was nothing to worry about.

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