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Game to Watch: Malaga's glass slipper strolls into Dortmund
by Samuel Charles, April 8th, 2013 1:08AM

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TAGS:  uefa champions league


[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Malaga's Champions League debut is now just one game away from a miraculous semifinal birth but Coach Manuel Pellegrini's club faces the tournament's hottest team on Tuesday, with Borussia Dortmund waiting at Germany's biggest and loudest stadium.

TV: Borussia Dortmund-Malaga (Tuesday live 2:45 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus & FoxSoccerGo.com; delay 5 pm Fox Soccer.)

FAST FACTS: Malaga was founded in 1904, Borussia Dortmound in 1909, and the first leg’s scoreless tie was their first meeting. Dortmund won the last two Bundesliga titles; Malaga has never won La Liga.

Having played 20 games combined in this year’s UCL, Malaga’s 1-0 loss at Porto is the only defeat by either team; both won their UCL group. Malaga is fifth in La Liga; Dortmund is second in the Bundesliga, but Bayern Munich reclaimed the title Saturday.

QATAR’S INFLUENCE: Three of this year’s quarterfinalists have major financing from the Qatari royal family. In June 2010 Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani bought Malaga, six months later Barcelona’s first shirt deal reaped $220 million over five years from Qatar Foundation and in May 2011 Qatar Investment Authority purchased Paris St. Germain.

WESTFALENSTADION: Malaga plays at Barcelona and Real Madrid twice a year, but their fans appear catatonic compared to the cauldron of 80,000 black and yellow clad maniacs in Dortmund. BVB’s scored seven goals, allowed one, and won all four Champions League games played in its daunting home venue.

KINETIC KLOPP: After consecutive German Coach of the Year titles, and Dortmund’s current UCL run, 45-year-old Jurgen Klopp may be Europe’s most coveted coach. Charismatic, calculating, tall, a bit eccentric, and constantly sporting a six-day beard, Klopp says he’ll stay.

"I have a contract until 2016, I’ll definitely stay until 2016. Everybody thinks that if a club like Chelsea or Real Madrid come for me, I will go, but they will see," Klopp said.

MEET MALAGA: Mario Goetze, Marco Reus, Marcel Schmelzer, Nuri Sahin and Kevin Grosskreutz all graduated from Dortmund’s excellent youth academy, while Malaga’s quality is strictly of the vintage variety.

Keeper Willy Caballero, 31, was outstanding in the first leg. Defender Martin Demichelis, 32, played for Bayern, striker Roque Santa Cruz, 31, did too. Julio Baptista, 31, was at Real Madrid. Winger Joaquin, 31, made 51 appearances for Spain, and Jeremy Toulalan, 29, is a French international. Oguchi Onyewu, 30, appeared in two UCL group matches, but has played only once in 2013. (Weligton, 33, central defender and captain is suspended.)

LAST HURRAH? At 24, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski leads the Bundesliga with 21 goals, after 22 a year ago, but his agent says he’s leaving Dortmund. Still 20, Isco is Malaga’s most valuable commodity and the dynamic attacker acknowledges he’ll be sold for financial reasons this summer.

THE SKINNY: Malaga has allowed the third fewest goals in Spain, Dortmund’s scored the second most in Germany, but the first leg was the only time it failed to score in the tourney. The Andalusian team doesn’t have the youth or speed to play an open game, so ugly becomes beautiful.

At 22, midfielder Ilkay Gungodan is now being mentioned in the same breath with Dortmund’s biggest stars, although Lewandoski, and Goetze in particular, missed great chances in Wednesday’s first leg.

Malaga displayed guts to get this far, but Dortmund will ride its crowd and push the tempo. Unless Isco has a performance for the ages, Cinderella’s glass slipper is coming off in Germany Tuesday.



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