Madrid's manager threw on Kaká, Benzema and Khedira and provided a plethora of attacking threats
Real Madrid purchased Luka Modric for contests like this: fast-paced matches where José Mourinho needs another creative outlet, and someone who could skip nonchalantly round opposition challenges in an action-packed midfield zone. Mourinho's attempt to include him last week – high in midfield, with Mesut Ozil moving wide – proved unsuccessful, but he remained committed to using the Croatian.
This format worked much better – Modric started deep alongside Xabi Alonso, so Real had two deep-lying playmakers able to hit intelligent passes into the attacking quarter. Jürgen Klopp's primary objective was to stop Alonso – "Our plan was to take him out of the game, because if he can play as he wants, it's impossible to defend against Madrid", he had said previously. That was less effective now Real had another clever passer alongside, while the attention Modric attracted also allowed Alonso more freedom to spray passes forward.
Ozil, too, was a beneficiary of Modric's presence. Unable to influence the play in the first leg, his movement was excellent as Real piled on the pressure in the opening moments. Drifting deep into the midfield zone then darting in behind the defence, he provided a passing option in midfield, and a goal threat in behind – although his finishing, the major weakness in his game, was typically poor.
Real created opportunities in the first half – better situations than the half-chances Robert Lewandowski had excellently stabbed home in the first leg.
Mourinho's major strength as a tactician is his ability to switch seamlessly to a Plan B. He made his formation change early, on 57 minutes, introducing Kaká for the left-back Fabio Coentrão, while Karim Benzema replaced Gonzalo Higuaín upfront. Now, Real moved to a lopsided formation featuring only three at the back – including the makeshift defender Michael Essien – while Angel Di María was switched to the left to provide some kind of defensive discipline, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to move up front.
Modric, Alonso and Kaká is a ludicrously creative midfield trio, while Ozil, Ronaldo, Benzema and Di María spread across the pitch to provide Dortmund with a plethora of attacking threats.
Real concentrated on sheer pressure rather than attempting to find specific weaknesses in the Dortmund back four, although the more they threw men forward, the more the Dortmund back four appeared capable of organising themselves. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic were more comfortable challenging in the air than they were dealing with balls over their heads in the first half, when positioned higher up.
Mourinho's Real depend on breaking into space, and Dortmund's dismal attempts at running the clock down in the opposition half gave them those opportunities. Benzema, for instance, scored 10 seconds after Real's goalkeeper Diego López had the ball. When Real's build-up play was slow, and Dortmund packed the penalty box, the home side were not threatening until Sergio Ramos' late stint as an emergency centre-forward. Ronaldo, usually so reliable in front of goal, forced Roman Weidenfeller into only one save from his six attempts on goal. This tie came down to the quality of finishing.