Borussia Dortmund's Champions League campaign faces a crucial juncture as they host holders Real Madrid. A strong home record against their opponents bodes well, but a suspect defense could be their downfall.
Dortmund have started the domestic season with a bang. Nineteen goals in just six matches, top of the league, and all with a near-perfect defensive showing - just one goal conceded within that stretch.
Yet their resolute goals against record has flattered to deceive. In their opening Champions League match away against Tottenham, Dortmund were powerless to stop Spurs' lightening fast counter attacks in a disappointing 3-1 loss.
Against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday they conceded for the first time in the domestic season, but it could have been more had their opponents been more ruthless in front of goal.
Dortmund are playing some of Europe's most exciting offensive football at the moment, but they will need to switch on at the back if they are to stand a chance against Real Madrid. As one of the deadliest counter-attacking teams in Europe, Madrid won't be as forgiving at Dortmund's Bundesliga opponents.
Solid against Real
Dortmund should be reasonably confident heading into the match. Real Madrid have struggled playing in Germany, losing 19 of their 31 matches, and have never beaten Dortmund away from the Bernabeu. Meanwhile, Madrid's domestic season has been less than smooth - losing to Real Betis 1-0 a week ago and currently trailing La Liga leaders Barcelona by seven points after just six games.
Dortmund know they need at least a point in this game to have any chance of progressing from Group H - undoubtedly this season's´"Group of Death" in the Champions League. Victory over Madrid would be the perfect tonic to their opening loss to Tottenham, and they have the firepower to make it happen.
Max Philipp has emerged as goalscoring threat, with four goals in his last three games, alleviating some of the pressure on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored an astonishing 12 goals in nine games. Winger Andriy Yarmolenko has been seamlessly integrated into the starting XI, while deep-lying playmaker Julian Weigl is slowly finding form after a broken ankle.
"We enter the game confident and want to lay down a marker," said Weigl. "It's always a great feeling to play Real. And we normally do quite well against them."
History is on Dortmund's side, and their offence will cause the European holders big problems. How many goals they'll need, however, will depend on how their defense performs against Madrid's counter-attacking machine.
Tough test for Leipzig
RB Leipzig opened their debut Champions League campaign with a respectable draw against French champions Monaco. Next up are Turkish champions Besiktas, an intimidating destination for Leipzig's first European away match.
Besiktas have only lost one of their past 17 European home games and kick-started Group G with a 3-1 victory over FC Porto. Leipzig's inexperienced squad face a tough test in a foreign environment.
The club's squad depth will be stretched too, with Tuesday night's match their third in seven days. Leipzig are already struggling to cope with competing on three fronts this season, having lost two of their opening six Bundesliga games.
With a Bundesliga title tilt possibly beyond them this season, Leipzig will be determined to put in a strong showing on the glitzier European stage. A victory in Istwould not only give their youthful charges much-need confidence going forward, but would provide a solid base in the club's big to qualify for the knockout stages in its first attempt.
Matchday 2 fixture list
Dortmund vs. Madrid (Tuesday 8:45 p.m. CEST)
Apoel Nicosia vs. Tottenham
RB Leipzig vs. Besiktas
Monaco vs. Porto
Napoli vs. Feyernoord
Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool
Sevilla vs. Maribor