UEFA Champions League preview: Malaga v Borussia Dortmund
By Football News
Malaga will attempt to continue their impressive debut Champions League campaign against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.
The Spanish side have endured a solid domestic season to sit sixth in La Liga, while Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga - a massive 20 points behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich.
With a comfortable 3-1 away win against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, Malaga got an important victory and were also able to rest star Argentine striker Javier Saviola, who will be fresh for Wednesday's quarter-final first leg.
In their path to the quarter-finals, the Qatari-owned side have enjoyed a dream run, which included topping a group featuring AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg and Anderlecht, before accounting for Porto 2-1 on aggregate in the round of 16.
Dortmund also got a victory in their last domestic match, a 2-1 away win against Stuttgart.
But with Bayer Leverkusen hot on their heels in third position, they could not afford to rest any players ahead of the this week's showdown at Estadio La Rosaleda.
The German side's path to the quarter-final was just as impressive as their opponents', finishing three points clear in the 'group of death', which featured Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax.
They recorded a 2-2 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the round of 16, before comfortably triumphing 3-0 at home in the return.
It has been a breakout season for 20-year-old Malaga midfielder Isco, who has scored eight goals in La Liga, as well as three goals in six Champions League games. He is sure to feature prominently in Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp's pre-game planning.
The young Spaniard won the prestigious Golden Boy prize, awarded by Italian newspaper Tuttosport to Europe's best Under-21 player, and has been linked with heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Dortmund meanwhile are fortunate to have one of the best poachers in Europe - Polish hitman Robert Lewandowski.
The 24-year-old has been linked with many of Europe's powerhouse clubs and after slamming 20 goals in 24 league matches for Dortmund - plus five goals in eight European matches - Malaga will be well advised to mark Lewandowski tightly.
In great news for both clubs, their squads are unaffected by injury and both coaches will have their star players available for selection.
This is the first time the two clubs have met, with Malaga only ever qualifying for continental competitions twice before - the 2002 Intertoto Cup and 2002/2003 UEFA Cup.
Dortmund are the more experienced team in big matches but Malaga contain many big names such as Saviola, Joaquin, Roque Santa Cruz and Martin Demichelis, who have experienced pressure games at other clubs.
The Spanish side may just have the advantage in front of their home fans but this is a tie that is evenly poised.