This has been a memorable debut campaign in Europe’s Premier Club competition for the cash strapped Andalucian outfit. Malaga were one of the revelations of the group phase, winning a group that included AC Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg, before overcoming an experienced and accomplished FC Porto team to reach this stage despite losing the first leg 1-0 away from home.
Malaga’s current underdog status is a far cry from how they were viewed 18 months ago. Then the Andalusian side looked poised to join the likes of nouveau-riche Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain among Europe’s elite after receiving considerable investment form their new Qatari owners.
But the money dried up last summer and stars like Santi Cazorla and Jose Salomon Rondon were sold, to be followed by Spain international Nacho Monreal in January.
Little was then expected then from Malaga as they mixed it in competition with the cream of the crop from across Europe for the first time. Much credit for the fact that they have progressed so far in the competition must go to Pellegrini. Like many of his players, the Chilean has also been shunned by one of the game’s giants having been dismissed after a single season in charge of Real Madrid despite amassing what was then the club’s record points tally in La Liga.
The future is certainly unclear for Borussia Dortmund, with Robert Lewandowski set to leave, Mario Gotze hinting that he could see his future elsewhere and continual speculation that Mats Hummels could join Barcelona, this wonderfully built team could be coming to a premature end.
They surely have something special still to give in this competition though and Dortmund will hope that the wantaway stars may look to Nuri Sahin for inspiration. The Turkish international has hit the ground running since returning from Liverpool in January and is proof that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. The best way to convince their best performers to stay put will be a convincing showing in Europe.
Malaga: Caballero, Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Antunes, Toulalan, Iturra, Joaquin, Baptista, Isco, Saviola
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Subotic, Santana, Schmelzer, Gundogan, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Gotze, Reus, Lewandowski