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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

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Match Previews

Champions League: Borussia Dortmund vs Malaga Match Preview

What: Champions League Quarter-final (Second leg)
Who: Borussia Dortmund (0) v Malaga (0) – First leg scores in brackets
When: Tuesday 9th April, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Westfalonstadion, Dortmund, Germany

Dortmund Aim for European Glory

Jurgen Klopp will not know quite how his team came away from Andalusia last week without a goal. The 2011/12 German champions’ play was its usual free flowing best, but they just could not find a way past Malaga goalkeeper Wily Caballero. They knew they were the better team though and are now the only side to have not lost a game in the Champions League this season after Juventus were beaten by Bayern Munich.

With compatriots Bayern Munich safely through to the last four Dortmund will be determined to make sure that they make it as well. This is a fantastic chance for Klopp’s side to win Europe’s top prize and there is no reason they should feel the task is beyond them having already got the better of Real Madrid this season.

Officially losing their title to Bayern Munich at the weekend should not affect them that much, given that they have had half the season to prepare themselves mentally given their rivals’ breathtakingly ominous domestic form. But in Europe they have won all four home games this season and a fifth success at the imposing Westfalonstadion will ensure they take their place in the last four.

Malaga Look To Continue Fairy Tale

This weekend saw Malaga warm up for Dortmund in unimpressive fashion, losing 4-2 to Real Sociedad in what was a direct battle between the leading contenders for fourth place in La Liga. But then again if Malaga do not win a reprieve from UEFA to play in European competition next year then their league finish this year is an irrelevance. And so they may as well enjoy the ride whilst they are there – Malaga will do everything they can to find what may be a decisive away goal on the night.

Malaga go to Dortmund knowing that they got away with it in the first leg in Spain. But having escaped with a 0-0, they are still in with a real chance of making it to the last four and equalling the achievements of Villarreal, who under Malaga’s current coach Mauricio Pellegrini, became the first debutant to reach the last four of this competition in 2006.

Pellegrini is a wily operator and spoke ahead of the Dortmund game of the importance of not conceding a goal at home. His team are not especially defensive though and their controlled possession game serves both a defensive and attacking purpose. And Pellegrini’s sides have a habit of knowing how to turn a tie around, having lost 1-0 to FC Porto in the first leg of their quarter-final. That was something his Villarreal team were excellent at as well, and the tricky Andalucians cannot be ruled out.


Recent form

Borussia Dortmund:
Stuttgart 1-2 Borussia Dortmund (30/03; Bundesliga)
Malaga 0-0 Borussia Dortmund (03/04; Champions League)
Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Augsburg (06/04; Bundesliga)

Rayo Vallecano 1-3 Malaga (30/03; La Liga)
Malaga 0-0 Borussia Dortmund (03/04; Champions League)
Real Sociedad 4-2 Malaga (06/04; La Liga)

Key absences

Borussia Dortmund: Marco Reus (doubt); Roman Weidenfeller (doubt); Mats Hummels;  Jakub Blaszczykowski

Malaga: Eliseu; Welington; Manuel Iturra

Players to watch

Borussia Dortmund – Ilkay Gundogan: Mario Gotze could not find the net in the first leg, neither could Robert Lewandowski, and Marco Reus is battling to be fit for the return. Gundogan could then be particularly important in this game. The young German has become integral to Klopp’s side, who have not won a game without him this season. His vision and creativity from deep is superb, and the key to catching this Malaga team on a swift counter attack.

Malaga – Willy Caballero: The Argentine goalkeeper had a fantastic game against Dortmund last week and he must replicate that performance if Malaga are to make it to the last four. Having kept a clean sheet, a score draw would do, but Dortmund’s attacking talent could overwhelm the Spaniards. However, having come out top in three one-on-ones against Gotze and denied Lewandowski a gilt-edged chance, Caballero has shown that he is capable of performing the kind of heroics needed for a backs against the wall display.

Match Prediction

Both sides will approach this game in much the same way that they did the first leg. Dortmund will press and push Malaga back and look to pass around them in the final third. But Malaga will be happy to play their own brand of possession football and wait patiently for a hole to appear in the home defence.

Hummels and Blaszczykowski are both injured for the hosts, who will hope their defence is more resolute than it was during the 4-2 victory over Augsburg at the weekend. And with Reus struggling to recover from injury Klopp’s side will become more reliant on Gotze and Lewandowski to make the breakthrough. Malaga have issues of their own, with Welington and Iturra suspended and Eliseu still out. Isco, naturally, will be the key for them and their attacking options in Julio Baptista, Javier Saviola and Roque Santa Cruz should give them optimism.

Even though this game is level and in the balance, one team is clearly superior to the other, both in theory and in practice. Dortmund showed last week that their pressing game can pen Malaga back and give them control of the tie. The Bundesliga side’s pressure and quality is such that they surely can’t fail to take some of another hatful of chances. Can they? Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Malaga.

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Published: Monday, 8th Apr 2013