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. USMNT vs Switzerland preview: Last time they met, Michael Bradley scored the winner with a full head of hair

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

    Switzerland v USA - International Friendly Getty Images

    Maurice Edu and Danny Szetela helped the goal get going, and Bradley was barely more than 20 years old.

  2. WATCH: Aurelien Chedjou and a flying own goal under zero pressure

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH16-CMR-GUI Getty Images

    Fortunately for Chedjou, Cameroon came back to beat Thailand 3-2.

  3. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 4

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:24 PM EDT

    NE Revolution Vs. San Jose Earthquakes At Gillette Stadium Getty Images

    Lads and ladies, men and women, dudes and dudettes, it’s going to be a bit of an odd week for the MLS Team of the Week here on PST.

  4. Organizers apologize for Salvadoran national anthem mix-up in Washington (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    El Salvador

    The anthem that blared over the loudspeaker happened to belong to Isle of Man, not on-field participants El Salvador.

  5. Missing University of California, Berkeley men’s player Eloi Vasquez confirmed dead

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT

    Eloi Vasquez

    Reports say he was lost after leaving a fraternity party near the University of Southern California.

  6. MLS Player of the Week — Week 4

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Kaka AP

    Who claimed the honors for Week 4 in Major League Soccer? The only former Ballon d’Or winner in the league!

  7. NWSL mega deal sends Sydney Leroux Dwyer to WNY for rights to Abby Wambach

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:26 PM EDT

    SRFC_Sydney_Leroux_5_4-23-14

    The Western New York Flash are reaping the rewards of Abby Wambach’s refusal to play ball.

  8. UEFA begins investigation into fan, on-field chaos in Russia/Montenegro match

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:49 PM EDT

    Russia's Igor Akinfeev hit by flare at Montenegro, match later abandoned Getty Images

    Just last week, UEFA president Michel Platini issued concerns over the uptick in hooliganism.

  9. Prolific U.S. U-17 striker chooses club home in NASL

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Haji Wright Wearing Cosmos Jersey March 30 2015

    Wright helped the U.S. qualify for this summer’s U-17 World Cup, and recorded 18 goals and 7 assists in 22 games for the side.

  10. WATCH: Andy Najar’s wonder goal helps Honduras into 2015 Gold Cup

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    FBL-CONCACAF-GOLD-CUP-QUALIFIERS-HND-GUF Getty Images

    The tournament begins July 7, with Los Catrachos facing the USMNT in Frisco, Texas.

  11. How will the USMNT line up against Switzerland?

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    USMNT Getty Images

    Few have successfully predicted the erratic USMNT lineups over the last few months, but here’s our best shot.

  12. Agent: Memphis Depay has had no contact with Manchester United

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Depay Getty Images

    The Dutchman’s agent says he has not spoken with any teams, including the Red Devils.

  13. Former Barcelona star claims he despises Louis van Gaal

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Stoichkov Getty Images

    A salty relationship between the Bulgarian striker and his Dutch boss led to the “Dream Team” member departing Barcelona a year later.

  14. Napoli forward Mertens will send aid to African village after seeing schoolboy in his shirt

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Mertens Getty Images

    The 27-year-old Belgian saw a picture that touched him enough to reach out.

  15. Akinfeev fully recovered from flare incident, likely to play vs Zenit this weekend

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:39 AM EDT

    Akinfeev AP

    After being knocked unconscious by a flare, the Russian shot-stopper will be fit to play a crucial league match this weekend.

  16. British exec says England could look towards 2030 World Cup bid

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:21 AM EDT

    Gill Getty Images

    England has refrained from bidding for World Cups since their relationship with Sepp Blatter has soured, but that could change in the next vote or two.

  17. Neymar furious after Medel tackle goes unpunished in physical friendly

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:20 AM EDT

    NeymarMedel AP

    Barcelona striker Neymar was furious with former Premier League defender Gary Medel, who clattered him hard during the first half of a physical match.

  18. Chicharito unleashes on Real Madrid, “frustrated” with a life on the bench

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:50 AM EDT

    Chicharito Getty Images

    The 26-year-old scored for the Mexican team this weekend, but remains frustrated at the club level.

  19. Report: Man United target Nathaniel Clyne won’t decide his future until summer

    Mar 29, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC

    Are Saints about to lose another young star to one of the Premier League’s “big five?” We’ll find out this summer.

Featured video

Week 30: Headline PL moment