Apr 9, 2013, 11:35 AM EST
As Borussia Dortmund and Malaga get ready to face-off in their Champions League quarter-final second leg clash, here are the 5 key battles that will decide who progresses to the semi-finals:-
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI vs MARTIN DEMICHELIS
Dortmund’s Lewandowski is one of Europe’s hottest offensive properties right now, and he is being watched by some huge clubs. The experience of 32-year-old Demichelis will be crucial in keeping the Polish star quiet. If the pony-tailed Argentinian doesn’t play to his potential Malaga will struggle to progress.
MARIO GOTZE vs ISCO
Although they won’t actually be marking one another, both of these two 20-year-olds are expected to become one of the best soccer players on the planet over the next few years. Both have great technical quality and are exciting to watch, and whoever has the more influential evening could be the difference between the two sides.
ILKAY GUNDOGAN vs JEREMY TOULALAN
Gundogan is a great young German prospect in the midfield, full of intelligent passing, a good work-rate and an ability to run the show. Toulalan is more of a spoiler in the centre, breaking up the opposition attacks and getting the ball to guys who are more talented and offensive. His job is to stop Gundogan dictating the play.
ROMAN WEIDENFELLER vs WILFREDO CABALLERO
On big nights like these, the goalkeeper can often end up being either the hero or the villain. Neither Weidenfeller or Caballero, while perfectly adequate, are among the elite ‘keepers in world soccer, and it will be one of the biggest games of both of their careers.
MARCEL SCHMELZER vs JOAQUIN
31-year-old Joaquin was once one of soccer’s rising stars, and after a spell in the wilderness he is back playing great for Malaga. His speed and power on the right hand side could be a lethal weapon for Malaga on the counter attack, and left-back Schmelzer will have to be wary of giving the Spaniard too much space to run.
Let battle commence.
- 2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event (33)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (23)
- Sit down with Orlando City SC: Taking on Beckham, emulating the Timbers and Kaka in 2015 – Part I (21)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (21)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (17)