There once was a time when Real Madrid feared their Bundesliga counterparts, when European Cup trips to Germany meant a harsh, physical and bullying contest, but those days are no more.
Back in the last century, Los Blancos suffered much at the hands of Bayern Munich and Co. although this year’s group stage sees Borussia Dortmund welcome the Spaniards to Westphalia from an underdog position.
That’s because, in each of their past six triumphs in the Champions League, Madrid have knocked out at least one German side.
It all began in 1998 when Christian Karembeu dragged Real through a tricky quarter-final with Bayer Leverkusen, before the same player scored in a 2-0 aggregate victory over Borussia in the final four.
Two years after their seventh European Cup, Nicolas Anelka was the inspiration behind the semi-final disposal of Bayern Munich, notching the crucial away goal in the second leg in Bavaria as Madrid progressed to the successful Stade de France showpiece versus Valencia.
Die Roten were again knocked out in 2002 as second half goals from Ivan Helguera and Guti overcame a first leg deficit en route to Zinedine Zidane’s masterful strike past Leverkusen in the final.
For the following 12 years, Los Blancos failed to get their hands on the illusive Decima crown, falling to Dortmund in 2013 thanks to Robert Lewandowski’s incredible four-goal haul in the first leg of their semi-final tie before coming out on top in a 3-2 aggregate thriller 12 months later.
That quarter-final thriller was part of a treble Bundesliga scalp Real took on their way to the 2014 title, dumping Schalke 04 and Bayern out ahead of the infamous beating of Atletico Madrid in Lisbon.
Completing the set are the victories over Wolfsburg in 2015/16 and Munich last season, the former proving a tricky comeback that defined the early Zidane era as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a crucial second leg hat-trick.
As a group stage encounter with Borussia now represents another opportunity for Los Blancos to knock out a German rival, it would be a very good omen for the current holders if they continue on the path to Kiev with a win on Tuesday night.