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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 9 May 2021

Malaga out to shock Borussia Dortmund

Two of the less fancied sides meet in the Champions League this evening.

Manuel Pellegrini's side have exceeded expectations in Europe this year.
Manuel Pellegrini's side have exceeded expectations in Europe this year.

MALAGA WINGER JOAQUIN Sanchez is promising a big performance from his side on Wednesday as the Spanish side host Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League quarter-final in their first ever appearance in the competition.

“We’ll go out aggressive and look for a result at home, but not even an 8-0 win would allow us to relax in Germany,” he said on Monday.

“These are the games that footballers want to play in, we’re very happy to enjoy this atmosphere and that the fans can join in, you can sense the club’s dreams everywhere you go here. These are games in which the big teams prove themselves,” the former Spain international told a press conference.

In last month’s 2-0 second-leg win over Porto, Malaga turned around a tie they were losing by a single goal after the away game and once again showed the good home form that allowed them to top their qualifying group ahead of AC Milan.

Indeed, Malaga have never lost at home in thirteen European games in their history.

That includes group wins this season over the Italian giants, plus Zenit St Petersburg and a qualifying round win over Panathinaikos for a home record in the competition that reads four wins and one draw, hitting 10 goals and conceding only 2 in the process.

The form of Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero has been decisive for Champions progress and in Malaga boasting La Liga’s second best defensive record, and the his form will be key if Borussia are to be thwarted in La Rosaleda stadium.

“We have to be up for it and play Borussia on equal terms. That will be difficult because they are a team that attacks well and have a whole lot more. For us it’s a dream but we must be strong in the home game, we all must be on top of our game and find out how where we can hurt them,” said Caballero.

Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund are renowned for their attacking prowess having scored 91 goals in all competitions this season in 40 games, including a 2-2 draw in the Santiago Bernabeu that came after beating Real Madrid 2-1 in Germany to top Group D in qualification.

Caballero will come face to face with in-form striker Robert Lewandowski, who has scored in nine consecutive Bundesliga outings and has 13 goals in his past 13 games for the club.

The Polish international got the winner on Saturday as Borussia won 2-1 at Stuttgart to deny Bayern Munich an early celebration of the Bundesliga title.

Borussia trail Munich by a massive 20 points but remain in contention to finish second, sitting four points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, with three wins in the last four.

Malaga are also in contention for qualification to next season’s competition currently sitting fifth in La Liga, but the Costa del Sol club is currently banned by UEFA from next season’s competition, barring an appeal, for outstanding debts.

Coach Manuel Pellegrini’s feat to get his side to the quarters in such circumstances is enviable, doing so he becomes the first manager to take two debutant teams so far in the competition having led Villarreal to the semi-finals in 2006.

His side grabbed a first win in five league games on Saturday, 3-1 at Rayo Vallecano, but their form in general has been patchy since the turn of the year, with just six wins in 17 games.

A major boost from Saturday’s win was a first goal of the season for former Arsenal and Real Madrid forward Julio Baptista, who was making only his seventh appearance in the last 18 months due to Achilles and hamstring injuries.

Malaga will have almost a full squad to call on for Wednesday, with the likely exception being Portuguese full-back Eliseu, who is still recovering from a knee injury picked up in January.

Mats Hummels with ankle ligament trouble, Sebastian Kehl and left-back Marcel Schmelzer, who suffered a broken nose in Saturday’s game, are all doubts for the Germans.

© AFP, 2013

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