TFN’s Simon Smith on why Juventus vs Dortmund runs deeper than Catenaccio versus Gegenpress…
Of the various ties in this Champions League last 16 to savour this week and next, there are many sub plots and rivalries to look forward to. Last week’s David Luiz derby might not have been the most enthralling, but with Carlo Ancelotti facing fellow former Abramovic employee Roberto Di Matteo in Schalke versus Real and Arsene Wenger’s reunion with Monaco there shall be no shortage of managerial talking points.Manchester City and Barcelona once again contest the Yaya Toure derby, although the match will most likely be more shaped by their experiences in last season’s clash. But none of this is what I’ve been looking forward to the most.
That would be the other semi-tenuous derby clash, the rematch of the 1997 Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Juventus. In tactical terms this is arguably the most intriguing match, and on paper one of the most evenly matched in a round that often provides mismatches for the larger clubs to sail to the latter stages. And, for differing reasons, this probably represents one of the more important ties for the two clubs themselves.
Dortmund are in the horrifying position of being on something of a hot streak – only Bremen’s five consecutive Bundesliga wins is better than their two – and yet having only just climbed out of the relegation zone. Their season would be long over were it not for the fact that their relegation battle is all too real, and yet their form in a difficult group with Arsenal, Fenerbahce and Anderlecht was unexpectedly good. The Champions League represents the best chance of any glory in a season they will hope to forget. Continue reading