Champions League newcomers Málaga are rated 66-1 outsiders to lift the trophy this year and few will be expecting them to trouble 1997 winners Borussia Dortmund in their quarter-final first leg tie this week. It will be a first ever meeting between the two sides and, although the Germans are yet to beaten in the competition this season, they will still have to be on their guard.
A 2-0 victory over FC Porto in their second leg last 16 tie was enough to give Málaga a 2-1 aggregate win. A lot of their success has come from a sound defence and they have kept a clean sheet in nine of their last 12 European home games. Malaga recorded home victories against FC Zenit St Petersburg (3-0) and AC Milan (1-0) during the group stage.
Dortmund visited Spain earlier in the competition and came within a minute of winning at Real Madrid before Mesut Ozil equalised at 2-2. They drew 1-1 when they visited Premiership Champions Manchester City and won 4-1 at Ajax. More worryingly for the Germans, their overall record in Spain is poor. They have only won once in nine European matches, a victory over Club Atlético de Madrid in the UEFA Champions League group stage back in 1996/97. A 3-0 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk gave them a 5-2 aggregate win and qualification for the last eight for the first time since losing in the semi-finals in 1997/98.
Malaga Coach Manuel Pellegrini is not concerned by the fact that his side is underdogs at this stage of the competition and has no doubt that they can provide the Germans with a stiff test. As well as reaching the last eight of the Champions League, Pellegrini’s side is in contention for a top-four finish in La Liga. Their achievements are more remarkable in view of UEFA?s decision to ban them from playing European football next season due to outstanding debts.
Mats Hummels and Sebastian Kehl are sidelined for Dortmund but Marcel Schmelzer and Jakob Blaszczykowski face fitness tests ahead of Wednesday night?s game. Schmelzer suffered a broken nose during the 2-1 win over Stuttgart last weekend but is hoping that he will be allowed to play with a facemask. Malaga?s only significant absentee is forward Eliseu who is out with a knee injury.
Tactics will be interesting for this 1st leg tie with the hosts desperate to avoid conceding the away goal. At the same time, Pellegrini?s side must still show enough attacking intent to try to take an advantage to Germany for the deciding leg. Borussia Dortmund is 5-4 favourites to win the 1st leg with Malaga at 5-2 and the draw at 12-5. A 1-1 draw is the most popular scoreline at 7-1 with a goalless draw priced at 10-1. Robert Lewandowski is the 9-2 favourite to open the scoring.