WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) previews Monaco's trip to northern Germany to face Dortmund on the opening night of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
Borussia Dortmund host Monaco at the Westfalenstadion in the first of the Champions League quarter-finals first legs. Thomas Tuchel has been out in the press claiming his side are the slight underdogs to progress from the tie – the bookmakers have them at a best price 4/6 but I agree with the German coach.
Les Rouges et Blancs knocked out Manchester City in the Round of 16, going into the second leg they were 4/1 to qualify but overcame that price nicely. They have since lost the Coupe de la Ligue final 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain but two more Ligue 1 wins has them still three points clear at the top of the table.
Leonardo Jardim’s team have been a-par with Napoli for the most exciting attacking team to watch this season. The combination of Thomas Lemar, Bernardo Silva and Fabinho in the creative midfield department has been a joy to behold whilst Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao represent wonderful striking solutions suitable for a variety of games and tactics.
Transition in Westphalia
BVB have also suffered a 4-1 defeat to their divisional rivals since progressing to this stage; theirs coming last time out at the hands of Bayern Munich. That will have hurt Dortmund who’ve had a fair bit of success against the Bundesliga giants over the last few years.
I think that defeat is an indication of where the Black and Yellows are at present. It made certain that Bayern will not be challenged for the title this year and proves that Borussia are in a transitional period. Ousmane Dembele, Felix Passlack, Raphael Guerreiro and Christian Pulisic are all in their first proper Bundesliga seasons.
The remnants of the BVB 2011-12 league winning squad are threadbare now, stars Robert Lewandowski, Ivan Perisic, Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Jakub Błaszczykowski have all left, the last three doing so last summer.
The only remains being Sven Bender, Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Roman Weidenfeller, Mario Götze and Shinji Kagawa. Götze is struggling with a metabolic disorder and only Piszczek, Kagawa and Schmelzer feature regularly.
Marco Reus is also experiencing injury problems this season, playing in just 39% of their league games. He is listed as doubtful with a thigh injury for Tuesday's big match. Andre Schurrle is another to add to the inconsistent list and is definitely out with an ankle injury.
In summary, it means that we are likely to see two of the youngest sides ever in a Champions League quarter-final. The average age of Tuchel’s youngest starting XI fielded this season is 23.6, the youngest in the competition this season, whilst Monaco have played with an average of 24.7 years. In stark contrast, Juventus field an average age of 30.5 years.
Goals on the Menu
In my opinion that youthful exuberance spells goals and the stats more than support it – Dortmund’s UCL games this season average 4.375 goals whilst Monaco’s average 3.22.
Since 2003/4, 56% of Champions League knockout first legs have gone Under 2.5 Goals but this is no normal tie, I don’t think we are talking about two teams that can play a reserved style.
I’ll back Over 3.5 goals at 11/10 with William Hill, it’s short but two teams that average way over two goals a game in all competitions this season.
I’ll also back Monaco to keep it close, 4/7 about a home win (Skybet) does the visitors a complete disservice in my opinion. Monaco +1 on the Asian Handicap is 107/100 with Bet365, win or draw and we have a winner, lose by one goal and we get our money back.
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco – Monaco +1 Asian Handicap (107/100 Bet365)
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco – Over 3.5 goals (11/10 William Hill)