Reigning German champions Borussia Dortmund will take on Malaga away from home in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal this week.
Dortmund were very impressive in their defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16—running out 5-2 winners on aggregate—and will be looking to continue their strong European run when they take on Malaga, who came from behind to defeat Porto in their match.
The Spanish club have been particularly strong at home all season, which should see them thrive in this one, but do they have enough to stop the German giants?
Dortmund are very strong right across the park and will bring plenty of attacking pressure to this one, making it a very fascinating fixture to watch indeed.
How will the first leg of this quarterfinal pan out? Read on for a full preview including all the necessary details, live viewing information and predictions.
Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Start time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: La Rosaleda Stadium, Malaga, Spain
Live Stream and TV Information
Fox Soccer Plus, SiriusXM FC, Fox Sports Net and MSG Plus will all show coverage of this game throughout the United States (per Live Soccer TV).
Sky Go and Sky Sports 4/HD will do the same in the United Kingdom.
Champions League Story so Far
Note: Malaga also had to go through two playoff games against Panathinaikos to make the group stage. They won 2-0 at home and drew 0-0 away.
W3, D3, L0
(12 goals for, five against)
W4, D2, L0
(11 goals for, five against)
W1, D0, L1 vs. Porto
(Two goals for, one against)
|Round of 16||
W1, D1, L0 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
(Five goals for, two against)
Key Player to Watch: Robert Lewandowski, Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski might not receive plenty of goalscoring chances on the night, given the fact they're playing away. However, given the talent behind him and that of the Polish international himself, Lewandowski is bound to find chances here.
And if that happens, look out, Galatasaray.
The Polish star netted his 20th domestic goal on the weekend for Dortmund—coming in just his 24 appearance for the club this year. Moreover, he has shown similar numbers in the Champions League so far, where he has netted five goals and two assists to date.
Lewandowski was the go-to target for Dortmund in their big games against Madrid (twice) and particularly in their home game against Shakhtar.
He is a strong, physical presence, who is capable of dominating in the air or on the ground with either foot—making him a very hard man to mark.
Malaga's defense have been relatively solid at home this year, and they'll certainly need to be if they're going to stop Dortmund here. For even if the German side plan on defending the majority of this one, they're going to see good attacking chances. They're just that talented, and guys like Lewandowski are therefore capable of finding the back of the net in this one.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: How Will Dortmund's Defense Hold Up?
Dortmund suffered a big blow two weeks ago with the news that star defender Mats Hummels would miss this match with an ankle injury.
And whilst one defender being absent isn't the biggest deal, having a player like Hummels not there for a game that is going to be largely defensive is a big blow for the German champions, who will now line up much different to what they had originally planned.
Felipe Santana will again be the man tasked with partnering Neven Subotic in the middle of the field, and whilst he's done a good job so far, this is a very big test.
Isco and Roque Santa Cruz are good attackers who are more than capable of finding space in behind the Germans here, and as seen in the competition so far, they are capable of netting incredible goals that could single-handedly change the outcome of this game.
Santana has a big job to do here replacing Hummels, with Dortmund's defense likely to face several big tests throughout this one because of his absence.
Three Stats to Consider
- Malaga remain undefeated at home in European competition (qualifiers excluded), with their nine games so far producing six wins and three draws.
- Borussia Dortmund have only won one of their past eight away games in the Champions League against Spanish opponents. That came against Atletico Madrid in October 1996, which interestingly, was the same year they went on to win the Champions League title.
- Malaga are yet to concede a goal in the first-half so far, whilst Dortmund have never failed to score in the Champions League this season.
Given the dominance that Dortmund have shown at home this year, they would no doubt be happy with anything other than a defeat against Malaga here.
Especially with Hummels out, the German champions will know that defense is paramount to their chances at progressing through to the semifinals of the Champions League, and that a strong showing here should set them up for victory at home next week.
Thus expect Dortmund to be quite defensively minded here but to still be as threatening in attack as always. They simply have too much talent on hand not to push forward and attack, so expect that to happen as well for the Germans.
Malaga isn't a big goal-scoring team but they do defend well and, at home, will be a very tough team to break down—even with the attack that Dortmund has.
What's your prediction?
I think we'll see few chances throughout the first half for both teams, but for the second half to open up a little more. And once the Germans nab the opening goal of the game with a blistering counterattack, look for Malaga to attack a whole lot more over the final 30 minutes.
They'll know it will be almost impossible to overcome a deficit in Dortmund and will be determined to level the scores—something they'll do late against a desperate defense.
But even then, with a return leg next week scheduled in front of the Yellow Wall, a 1-1 draw will still seem like a loss for the Spanish club, who will have a very big task ahead of them if they're going to make it through to the Champions League semifinals.
Malaga 1, Borussia Dortmund 1
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