Skip to content

Champions League preview: The exaggerated gap between Borussia Dortmund, Málaga

Apr 9, 2013, 4:35 AM EDT

Borussia Dortmund's Lewandowski celebrates a goal against Augsburg during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Dortmund Reuters

This tie is still way too close, especially if you overlook last week’s result to dwell on what’s going on around it. Both Borussia Dortmund and Málaga made big chances this weekend, but still BVB rolled through Augsburg, 4-2. Málaga, despite playing a defender and midfielder set to start on Tuesday, gave up four goals at Real Sociedad, losing 4-1. Combined with the growing feeling that Manuel Pellegrini’s team were lucky to preserve last Wednesday’s 0-0 and you’re apt to forget how close Málaga is to springing this upset.

“The first leg was not a bad result for us,” Málaga defender Martín Demichelis was compelled to affirm on Monday. “[A]ny who believe Dortmund are as good as through are mistaken.”

There’s little doubt Borussia Dortmund are the better team, but the gap between the two sides isn’t that big. All it takes is any of number of one-goal scenarios to come good and Dortmund could be out: A Neven Subotic error; a Mats Hummels gaff; one unmarked man on a corner; a bad foul in the final third; or a single offside call where the flag doesn’t come up. Combine those possibilities, the away goals rule, as well as a team whose Champions League inexperience could belie their talent and you wonder why one narrative’s being buried below another.

There’s a reason Pellegrini was content with last week’s result. The away goals rule plays a big part, with Borussia Dortmund forced to score twice at the Westfalenstadion if they concede. A bigger reason, though, is the approach Pellegrini’s instilled, one that allows his teams to take advantage of small openings while relying on a backbone that can withstand long periods of time where the team’s not in control.

“It will be important to show the qualities which have made us so strong in the past: intensity, aggression, intelligence,” Demichelis said, offering some adjectives to characterize Pellegrini’s approach. “If we can bring all those qualities to life, we can be on a par with BVB.”

Those qualities were on display last week, albeit in limited quantities. Yes, Dortmund were better, and on some days, they convert some of those first half chances. But thanks to Willy Caballero, they didn’t. As the game wore on, Málaga were able to stabilize. By full time, they had their own small set of would have-could have scenarios.

Málaga doesn’t need to outplay Dortmund on Tuesday. They just need to have as many goals as their hosts. A score draw (or better) will get a second Pellegrini debutant to the semifinals. It doesn’t matter if they get there on technical or artistic merit.

If Málaga can outlast Dortmund’s initial surge and get to halftime scoreless, they can start playing for those one-goal scenarios that will vault them into the final four. It’s BVB’s job to take those scenarios out of play as soon as possible.

Notes

  • Topping the list of reasons all this Málaga talk could go for naught: Robert Lewandowski. On Sunday the Bundesliga’s goals leader came off the bench to score in his 10th straight league game. He’s now up to 21 goals this season and has 51 league tallies since moving from Lech Poznan three years ago.
  • Another reason to doubt Málaga: Suspensions. Weligton’s out. Manuel Iturra is also out. Diego Lugano’s going to come into the defense, while Ignacio Camacho will start along side Jeremy Toulalan in midfield.
  • Dortmund, on the other hand, are returning to full strength. Hummels and Jakob Blaszczykowski are expected to play after missing leg one in Málaga. Roman Wiedenfeller and Marco Reus, both held out against Augsburg, should also start.
  • Should Hummels and Blaszczykowski not make the starting XI, Felipe Santana and Kevin Großkreutz will keep their spots.
  • Manuel Pellegrini was not with the team on Monday, the Málaga boss having flown back to Chile after the death of his father. He is expected to arrive in time to oversee Tuesday’s match.

Possible lineups

Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Roman Weidenfeller; Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Lukasz Piszczek; Ilkay Gundogan, Sebastian Kehl; Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Jakob Blaszczykowski; Robert Lewandowski.

Málaga (4-4-2): Willy Caballero; Antunes, Diego Lugano, Martín Demichelis, Jesús Gámez; Isco, Ignacio Camacho, Jeremy Toulálán, Joaquin; Júlio Baptista, Javier Saviola.

Latest Posts
  1. Portland Timbers out of CONCACAF CL after loss in Honduras

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    TimbersOlimpia Getty Images

    The MLS side was eliminated from group stage play on an away goals tiebreaker as Honduran side Olimpia goes through.

  2. FA investigating racial abuse in Championship match

    Oct 22, 2014, 8:42 AM EDT

    BellusciJerome Getty Images

    Norwich striker Cameron Jerome complained to Mark Clattenburg that a Leeds player was racially abusing him, and the matter is being investigated.

  3. Podolski to speak to Wenger, Arsenal about his future

    Oct 22, 2014, 7:46 AM EDT

    Podolski Getty Images

    Arsenal’s energetic German winger loves the club, but admitted he can’t sit on the bench forever.

  4. QPR chairman releases statement on Redknapp-Taarabt feud

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    Tony Fernandes looks on at Loftus Road during a QPR match this season. Getty Images

    “On behalf of the club, I would like to apologise to the QPR supporters for the embarrassment this has caused,” Fernandes wrote.

  5. Tuesday’s Top 5 Champions League Goals: Which was the best?

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Edinson Cavani AP

    Who scored the best goal in Tuesday’s Champions League action?

  6. A Klinsmann Casualty? Juan Agudelo passed on by Wolverhampton

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - Roda JC Kerkrade v FC Utrecht AP

    One hopes Agudelo’s story will resonate with Jurgen Klinsmann.

  7. Steven Gerrard admits he denied move to Real Madrid and that it may haunt him in the future

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Switzerland Soccer Champions League AP

    “It might be something I regret down the line for not challenging myself,” said Gerrard.

  8. Sunderland players offer traveling fans refund for 8-0 romp at Southampton

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Jack Cork, Vito Mannone

    The players will shell out over $90,000 to cover the cost of the traveling fans.

  9. UEFA Champions League roundup: Bayern, Chelsea, Shakhtar go crazy on 40-goal night

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    AS Roma v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    40 goals were scored in eight games on Tuesday, as Groups E-H exploded into life.

  10. Chelsea 6-0 Maribor: Hazard brace keeps Blues atop Group G

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Champions League

    A sensational ending to a sensational performance by Hazard and Chelsea as a whole.

  11. AS Roma 1-7 Bayern Munich: Sublime Bayern smash Roma to go five points clear in Group E

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT

    Italy Soccer Champions League AP

    When Bayern Munich are firing on all cylinders, they are scary, scary sight.

  12. FOLLOW LIVE: At the half, Chelsea leading Maribor 3-0

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Unlucky for Maribor. Comfortable for Chelsea.

  13. LIVE – Champions League half time update: Blowouts! Get your blowouts here!

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-SHAKHTAR-PORTO Getty Images

    Groups E-H are in action on Wednesday in Europe as eight games take place, and there are some gaudy score lines after just 45 minutes.

  14. FOLLOW LIVE: At the half, unstoppable Bayern Munich up 5-0 at Roma

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT

    arjen_robben AP

    It’s an absolute shellacking going into half-time with Bayern giving a masterclass display in Roma.

  15. Philadelphia Union CEO heavily implies they have their long-term manager in Curtin

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Jim Curtin AP

    It’s the right move for Philly, especially given the man management shown by Curtin.

  16. Manuel Pellegrini upbeat, but Manchester City’s Champions League dreams fading

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Pellegrini defiant despite City blowing a 2-0 lead in Moscow.

  17. 22-year-old set to start for Arsenal as injury woes hit goalkeepers

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Arsenal Training Session Getty Images

    Missing Koscielny is a far bigger blow than having to start a 22-year-old, though.

  18. CSKA Moscow 2-2 Manchester City: Citizens blow 2-0 lead, Champions League hopes in ruin

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT

    AP

    City chuck away 2-0 lead in Russian capital, as UCL hopes hang in the balance.

  19. PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: Did Seattle, DC leapfrog LA?

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Aaron Schoenfeld, Justin Meram, Tyson Wahl AP

    We’re going to have to have a talk about the presupposed power of the superior West at some point soon.

Featured video

Week 8: Saturday PL recap