Posted October 23, 2012 on AP on Fox
Real Madrid needs to shake off its abysmal away form in Germany when it faces Borussia Dortmund, with Manchester City and Ajax knowing any slipup could see either missing out on the knockout stages from the Champions League's toughest group. Madrid won its opening pair of Group D matches but travels to Dortmund with only one victory in 23 games in Germany against German opponents. The Spanish team has lost 16 of those with the lone victory coming at Bayer Leverkusen in 2000. Dortmund, which hasn't beaten Spanish opposition at home in five games, has struggled since surrendering a late goal at City to provide the English champions with their only point of the competition so far. Madrid, which has six points, can take control of Group D with an away win. Dortmund is next with four points, while City has one and Ajax is last with none. Madrid's limp defense certainly won't help as the Spanish champions are without injured defenders Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho recruited midfielder Michael Essien into the backfield to help fill the void in Saturday's 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo. Madrid has struggled domestically and remains eight points behind co-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, but the European competition has brought out the best of Mourinho's team and Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored four of his 15 goals in the competition. ''We've got injuries but this is a squad where everyone can play where necessary and that's what we're doing,'' Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain said. ''We've had to move people around, but we've done it well.'' Dortmund is 12 points behind Bayern after Saturday's 2-1 loss to Schalke and could be focusing more on the Champions League after a disappointing showing in the competition last year, when it finished last in its group. Jakub Blaszczykowski (knee) will miss Madrid's visit, and fellow midfielder Ilkay Guendogan (spine) and defender Marcel Schmelzer (foot) hope to recover in time. Mario Goetze (thigh) could be available. ''We want to produce a completely different performance against Real,'' said Dortmund defender Matts Hummels, whose club drew 1-1 with Madrid on its last visit in 2003. Ajax's last victory over an English opponent at home came in 1980, but the Dutch champions know anything but a win will limit its progress from the group stage. City returns to the Netherlands for the first time since 1978-79 after rallying for a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, with Eden Dzeko again coming to the rescue. The Bosnia-Herzegovina striker scored twice after coming on in the 79th to secure victory. Dzeko, who also scored in a 3-2 loss at Madrid, is City's leading scorer with six goals, including four off the bench. ''In the last few games the situation has been like this and I'm just happy to be scoring goals,'' Dzeko said. ''But I will never be a super sub. I want to play.'' The English champions are without playmaker David Silva and defensive stalwarts Maicon and Javi Garcia. Ajax drew 3-3 with Heracles Almelo on Saturday. ''We weren't manly enough,'' Ajax coach Frank de Boer said. --- Follow Paul Logothetis at

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