How Can Man Utd make it to the Round of 16? Dortmund in Crisis
It’s crunch time in the group stages of the Champions League as both teams face an uphill battle to ensure they cut the Round of 16 in Europe’s biggest football competition.
It’s been an easy route towards the last-16 for some heavyweights, but the immediate future could be more challenging for Manchester United.
For the United fans who’ve been loyal in purchasing Champions League tickets, they’ve faced disappointment in recent years. Even when the Red Devils have qualified for the Champions League, the side has faltered on crucial occasions.
This year’s season is the same. A loss to Bayern Munich in the opener could’ve been avoided. Then, the disastrous result against Galatasaray at Old Trafford proved that United are unsettled and need a plan.
With one win and two losses, United understand that they still have a long way to go to make it through. Their run in the Premier League could have been better, too, as they sit in 8th place.
United fans have three games remaining and they must secure victories in as many as possible. Beating Galatasaray and Copenhagen away should be the top priority, as the teams directly competing with them for the top two spots in the group.
Team Needs to Get Together
One of the biggest concerns for every fan that turns up at Old Trafford with Champions League tickets is that the team morale has been different.
The issues with Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire’s concerns, and Andre Onana’s misfortunes have adversely affect the team. Also, learning from the defeats against Bayern and Galatasaray is vital.
The losses can be used as motivation and to improve. Identifying mistakes and improving the areas where they fell short is essential to avoid repeating those errors in the remaining matches.
Team unity and cohesion are equally important. The squad needs to ensure they’re working together effectively. Solid teamwork and understanding on the pitch can make a significant difference, especially in high-pressure Champions League matches.
Tightening up the defence and relying on a solid performance from the goalkeeper can minimise conceding goals, an area that needs improvement after the opening two matches. United are without their key players in defence, but the return of Raphael Varane should boost the side.
Varane missed out on the early games in the season owing to injury, but his return should help the side liven their spirits. Player fitness and injury management are critical to having the best squad available for the remaining matches. Ensuring key players are fit and ready to contribute is a top priority.
Utilising the home advantage in the matches at Old Trafford can also be a game-changer. Drawing energy from the fans and making the stadium a fortress will be crucial for success.
For most teams from the top leagues, the qualification from the group stage is easy. But United have fumbled continuously in the last few seasons, and they’ve complicated their situation.
Dortmund Needs to Move on From Bellingham
On the other side of Europe, Dortmund are trying to adjust and re-ignite their playing as they settle into life without Jude Bellingham. The 20-year-old transferred to Real Madrid in the summer window for a fee exceeding 100 million euros.
Ever since his start in a Real Madrid shirt, he has become unstoppable. With 11 goals in 12 games and several Player of the Match awards, Bellingham is now a key anchor at Real Madrid.
Dortmund’s start to the season has been puzzling. Although they remain unbeaten in the Bundesliga, their performances have left much to be desired, often grinding out victories against lesser opponents.
The situation is complicated in the Champions League in a tough group alongside PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle. After failing to score or win in their opening two games, a 1-0 win at Newcastle has lifted hopes of reaching the last 16.
A home clash with Newcastle is next and the Dortmund fans with Champions League tickets in the Yellow Wall will be roaring their team on.
Filling Bellingham’s Position
Bellingham’s absence is deeply felt at Dortmund. He was a crucial player last season when Dortmund came agonisingly close to winning the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2012.
Had Bellingham been fit for the final weekend, the outcome of last year’s league could’ve been different. He watched from the bench as Dortmund drew 2-2 at home against Mainz, narrowly conceding the title to Bayern Munich on goal difference.
In Dortmund, Bellingham was utilised as a standard midfielder. Since his switch to Real Madrid, he is now playing in an attacking role, delivering essential goals in big games.
Dortmund signed Germany’s Felix Nmecha and Austria’s Marcel Sabitzer to replace Bellingham, but both players are attack-oriented and lack the versatility that Bellingham brought to the squad.
As a result, Dortmund’s performances could have been more cohesive, and they’ve struggled to maximise their attacking talent. Their captain and defensive midfielder, Emre Can, has been somewhat isolated in an anchor role.