There were probably a few wry smiles on the faces of the staff at Mundo Deportivo when they sent off Thursday's edition with the headline ‘Baño Al Madrid’ – sent to the bathroom – following Real Madrid's 4-1 capitulation against Borussia Dortmund. The previous day they had had to endure the analysis of Barcelona's 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich from Madrid's Press as ‘the end of an era’.
“We didn't expect a result like this. We expected a much more positive result,” reflected Raphael Varane in the aftermath of Los Blancos' night to forget at the Westfalenstadion. They might not have expected it, they'll have few complaints though. “They were the better side by far. They won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally,” summed up Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese Coach was restricted in his team selection on the night. There is no doubt Madrid would have been stronger with Sergio Ramos at centre half instead of being shifted to right-back due to the absence of Alvaro Arbeloa, Michael Essien and Marcelo. Even with hindsight it's hard to add a reasoned case for doing things differently in defence, although being moved may have also accounted for Ramos' mood. “We lacked the right attitude tonight and I am the first in that.”
Further forward, Angel Di Maria didn't arrive in Germany until six hours before kick off – the Argentinean stayed in Madrid for the birth of his child. His late arrival prompted Mourinho to start him on the bench, opting for Luka Modric to take his place.
The deployment of the Croatian meant that Mesut Ozil was shifted to the right. And in one move, one of Madrid's most creative threats was nullified, out of position and unable to have an impact on his return to his homeland. Meanwhile, Modric took up deeper positions than those normally occupied by Ozil and Madrid's attacking edge was as diluted as it has been for a long time.
Despite that, a Mats Hummels mistake gif-wrapped an away goal which they'll do their best to cling on to ahead of next week's return at the Bernabeu. “We can [turn it around],” insisted Mourinho. “It's very difficult but we can do it. In football anything is possible.” Ramos was less assertive, but offered a semi-agreement to his Coach's sentiment: "We need to believe we can turn it around."
Before the match in Turkey against Galatasaray in the quarter-final – where they took a 3-0 lead – Mourinho showed his players a DVD of Tottenham Hotspurs’ attempt at chucking away a lead against Inter in the Europa League this season. But, if he's looking for precedent from coming from 4-1 down, he'll need to look no further than Spain. In 2004 Deportivo lost 4-1 at Milan before trouncing them 4-0 in Galicia at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League. And there is Madrid's glimmer.
“You cannot go out of a competition without dying in the field,” finished Mourinho last night, the only problem being that even dying on the field might not be enough to turn the tide against this exciting Dortmund side.