Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has praised Cristiano Ronaldo as “an unbelievable winner” ahead of the Champions League meeting with Real Madrid on Tuesday night.
Dortmund have no fresh injury worries, with only long-term absentees Marco Reus, Sven Bender and Erik Durm missing for the clash, but Tuchel is wary of the European champions ahead of the Group E meeting at the Westfalenstadion.
“It’s a big opponent, a big name — maybe the biggest name in world football,” Tuchel told reporters. “There will be an incredible atmosphere in the stadium. We believe that we can take on the task at hand and put in an exciting performance for our fans.”
Even so, Tuchel recognises that Madrid are fearsome opponents and does not believe the fact they have been held to draws in their last two La Liga games is a sign that their form is waning, highlighting the threat Ronaldo poses.
“Cristiano is one of the best footballers in the world,” he said. “He’s an unbelievable winner, who is capable of helping his team in every phase of the match by his sheer presence.
“We prepare for the best Real Madrid and a Cristiano in top form. It’s the Champions League and the best players usually show their best performances on such nights.”
Since 2003, Real Madrid have travelled to Dortmund three times and suffered three defeats, scoring only two goals but conceding eight.
However, Tuchel, whose Dortmund side have averaged 3.2 goals per game in the Bundesliga this season, is aware that they will need defensive stability against “the extraordinary quality” in Real’s attack.
“It will be a major challenge for us to stop their supply line through to the forwards,” Tuchel said. “This is the very top level. We need to be completely switched on, put in a lot of hard work, dedication and show real solidarity in the team.”
Tuchel, whose side beat Legia Warsaw 6-0 in their group opener, added: “We need the same courage we show in a Bundesliga match or at Warsaw, and the same conviction and the same freedom to play situations as they come. It’s not about relying on possession or banking on the transition play but about playing all situations as they are.”
Tuchel will have Andre Schurrle, Marc Bartra, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adrian Ramos available for the clash after the quartet all resumed team training on Monday.