There’s no doubting that Málaga have earned their place in the quarter-finals. They weren’t in a group of death like Borussia Dortmund, but they did have to see off two teams with much more experience in Europe, and did it in expert fashion to win their group. They were also matched up against Porto in the Round of 16, who were one of the strongest runners up. Not only did they get past Porto, but they did it by conceding the fewest goals of any other team in the Round of 16. Their domestic league form is a little more suspect, but they’ve still run a strong campaign so far and currently sit in fourth.
Borussia Dortmund have earned their place, too, probably in the most emphatic fashion of any team in the Champions League this season, entering the quarter-finals undefeated in the competition. They ended up in this year’s especially deadly group of death, and were so dominant that they beat out the Dutch, Spanish, and English champions to win the group with a game to spare. They also beat out Shakhtar Donetsk – another very strong runner up – with ease in the Round of 16. However, like Málaga, their league form hasn’t been great recently this season, and unlike Málaga, this is a team that has managed to win the Bundesliga for the past two seasons.
By the numbers:
|Shot (on target)||123 (54)||85 (38)|
Their stats so far are quite similar, but it’s important to note that Dortmund have been doing it against tougher competition overall.
The first leg of the tie is on April 3 at Málaga. The second leg at Dortmund will be played on April 9.
Buffeting the fixtures for Dortmund are Bundesliga matches with Stuttgart (likely on March 29), Augsburg (April 6), and Greuther Furth (likely on April 13). All three are relegation-threatened teams, which toward the end of the season can be a bit of a wild card. Still, Dortmund can afford a few slip ups and still qualify for the Champions League next year through the league, and will probably take the opportunity to rest players.
Málaga, on the other hand, are very much in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League through the league this season (assuming their ban on playing in Europe next season is overturned). They also have a tougher run of fixtures leading up to the match: they play Rayo Vallecano (likely on March 30), Real Sociedad (likely on April 6), and Osasuna (April 14). Rayo and La Real are both battling for a spot in Europe, while Osasuna are battling relegation.
On paper, the reigning German champions look likely to win this one. There’s always the possibility of an upset, but I see them going through.