Malaga will have a huge test ahead of them midweek when they travel to Germany to take on Borussia Dortmund. Any club would be hard pressed to win on the road against Dortmund, but for Malaga it could decide their season.
On the other hand, an early exit from the Champions League would cap off a very disappointing year for the German side.
Die Borussen have not showed their best domestically and have seemingly put all of their focus on the Champions League. But playing in front of their own fans will definitely heap an advantage on the German powerhouse.
The first leg of this Champions League tie was rather weird, to say the very least.
In the 0-0 draw in Malaga, Dortmund was in command throughout the entire match. Had it not been for the heroics of Willy Caballero, the tie could have already been decided.
But the draw at home has given hope to the Spanish side as the players even admitted that they were proud of the result.
They were able to keep the Germans from securing an important away goal and actually stand a decent chance of advancing if they can find the back of the net.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what you need to know entering this vital match in Germany.
Borussia Dortmund has looked really good as of late, and the results have showed that to be true. The German side has not lost a match in over a month and will be putting their strongest lineup on the pitch against Malaga.
Robert Lewandowski has scored a remarkable four goals in Dortmund’s last four games.
The striker looks to be in form and showed strength in the first meeting between these two clubs. He created several chances for his teammates but will need to be the target man against a tough Malaga defense.
Malaga, however, has not been at their best for quite a while now.
The Spanish club began the season in wonderful fashion, but has only shown glimpses of their best form in recent months. Over their last nine games, Malaga has only been able to win twice.
In their last match against Real Sociedad, the Andalusians were completely demolished by a score of 4-2. Although Malaga did rest some key players, one has to think that the side from the beginning of the season would have done much better.
Going into the match in Germany, Borussia Dortmund definitely has the advantage as far as current form is concerned.
Malaga’s golden boy, Isco, will be the standout performer for the Spanish side. Despite his young age, the attacker has flourished in the Champions League and played very well against Dortmund in the first leg.
If Isco is given the freedom that he needs, Dortmund could be in for a long night. However, if the Germans can remove the threat Isco presents, Malaga will certainly not be able to cope.
Willy Caballero will also play a huge part in Germany.
The keeper was clearly the man of the match in the first meeting and single-handedly kept Malaga in the competition. Dortmund will have to beat Willy if they are to advance, something they found impossible in Spain.
For Borussia Dortmund, no one may be more important that Mario Gotze. The player has admitted that he was not at his best in the opening match, and rightfully so (via Goal).
The attacker had several glaring chances to put his side up in the first meeting but was denied by Willy. Gotze will have to be at his best if Dortmund is to beat the strong Malaga defense.
Robert Lewandowski will also play a vital role for the German outfit. Though he is the leading scorer for Dortmund this season, his threat was severely lacking against Malaga in the first leg.
To beat Malaga’s wall of a defense, attackers must use speed and quickness to get behind the back line. Though Dortmund’s game plan looked flawless in the first meeting, it was their ability to finish that eventually cost them the victory.
Who will advance to the next round?
Again, the advantage will have to go to the Germans for overall strength of squad.
Malaga may boast a strong defense, but Borussia Dortmund showed that they can get behind the back four. Finishing will come and Malaga will need an answer.
But if anything eventually does in the Spanish side, it will be their lack of scoring. Isco has led the club this season, but there has not been an outright scorer for the Andalusians and their need of a goal will definitely hurt them in Germany.
Dortmund will have wonderful news ahead of the game as center-back Mats Hummels will be able to participate against Malaga. The return of the defender could solidify a clean sheet for the Germans and send Malaga home.
Jakub Blaszczykowski is also fighting to be able to play on Tuesday but it is more likely that Kevin Grosskreutz will get the nod against Malaga.
The visitors will have some key positions to fill.
Manuel Iturra and Weligton will both be forced to miss the game after picking up yellow cards in the first leg in Spain. This may be the best chance for young Camacho to show how good he really is on the big stage in place of Iturra.
But more interesting will be the decision of Manuel Pellegrini of who to start up top.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer; Bender, Gundogan; Reus, Gotze, Grosskreutz; Lewandowski
Malaga: Willy; Gamez, Lugano, Demichelis, Antunes; Toulalan, Camacho; Jaoquin, Baptista, Isco; Saviola
Final prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Malaga
How do you see this match playing out? Will Borussia Dortmund ride their counterattack to victory or will Malaga pull off an upset in Germany? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Malaga, La Liga and the Champions League.