Malaga vs. Borussia Dortmund: Complete Champions League Preview

Christopher AtkinsContributor IApril 2, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - MARCH 13: (L-R) Ignacio Camacho, goalkeeper Willy Caballero, Martin Demichelis and Lucas Piazon of Malaga CF celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Malaga CF and FC Porto at La Rosaleda Stadium on March 13, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Champions League debutantes Malaga will face former champions Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night knowing that they will more than likely need to take a positive home result to Dortmund's Westfalenstadion.

As a result, the two sides will be meeting for the first time in history this week. However, in Argentine defender Martin Demichelis and Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz, Malaga have two players who will be very familiar with their opponents from time spent with rivals Bayern Munich in Germany.

Malaga are flying high after coming through a difficult last-16 tie with Porto just two weeks ago, and, given the quality and experience they possess in their ranks, there is no chance that Dortmund will be underestimating their strength.

For Dortmund, the last 16 had threatened to offer a major challenge. The 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga champions made light work of Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk despite their opponents' ever-growing reputation.

Now, though, one of these two sides is on the verge of a semifinal place and it would mean a great deal to both, given the difficulties that have been overcome.

Malaga's season threatened to be thrown off course by the sale of several key figures preseason, as financial problems hit the Andalusian club hard. It is a feeling Dortmund will be all too familiar with, with this their first quarterfinal since major financial difficulties struck at the turn of the century.

A place in history awaits for both sides.


Location: La Rosaleda, Malaga

Time: Wednesday 3 April, 19.45 GMT

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)


Notable absentees

Malaga - None

Dortmund - Mats Hummels (ankle ligaments)


Form Guide (Last five matches)

Malaga - Two wins, two draws, one loss. (DDWLW)

Dortmund - Four wins, one loss. (WWLWW)


Key Battle: Martin Demichelis vs. Robert Lewandowski

Argentine defender Martin Demichelis has somewhat overcome his previous reputation of being somewhat error-prone to play an important role in La Liga's best defence this season.

On Wednesday night, though, he will encounter Polish forward Robert Lewandowski—who hit the 20 league goals mark for the season just this past weekend.

In the Champions League he has been no less prolific, adding five goals and two assists in seven fixtures against some of the toughest opposition the competition has to offer. Demichelis has a challenge on his hands.

Thus far this season, Demichelis and centre-back partner Weligton have formed a rock-solid defensive pairing. Lewandowski, as well as the creative forces of Gotze and Reus behind him, have the potential to test their abilities to the limit.


Key Player: Isco (Malaga)

The Spanish attacking midfielder has undoubtedly been Malaga's best player this season and will need to be on top form if they are to overcome their much-fancied German opponents.

With three goals and three assists in the Champions League this season, the 20-year-old has also produced his best form on the big stage, suggesting he will not be phased by the magnitude of the occasion.

A fine dribbler and the key playmaker of Malaga's attacking unit, he will stray from his left-flank starting position and cause problems for the Dortmund defence is not well monitored by Lukasz Piszczek in particular.


Predicted Lineups

Malaga: Caballero; Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Antunes; Iturra, Toulalan, Joaquin, Baptista, Isco; Saviola

Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Santana, Subotic, Schmelzer; Gundogan, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Gotze, Reus; Lewandowski