Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has refused to accept that his side should be disappointed after only emerging from the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal in Malaga with a goalless draw.
In contrast to the scoreline, it was an engaging 90 minutes at La Rosaleda last week in which the German side, in particular, missed several gilt-edged chances. But Klopp is eager to keep his players in a positive frame of mind.
“I told the lads today at training that we heard far too many negative comments about the first-leg result,” he said, according to UEFA’s Web site. “I have no idea how anyone can think you win in Malaga just like that. Everything that has happened so far in this campaign, the first leg included, has been extremely positive.”
Dortmund officially relinquished their grasp on the Bundesliga title to Bayern Munich at the weekend, despite a much-changed lineup beating Augsburg 4-2. Roman Weidenfeller and Marco Reus both rested slight injuries on Saturday but will be fit to start against Malaga. Klopp will also be boosted by the return to fitness of defender Mats Hummels and Jakub Blaszczykowski, however neither may be thrown in from the start.
The team news for Malaga is less positive, with defender Weligton and defensive midfielder Manuel Iturra both suspended after picking up bookings in the first leg.
The thoughts of Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini have doubtless been elsewhere, though, after the recent passing of his father. Pellegrini traveled to his native Chile during the week and will arrive back just in time for the match.
Defender Martin Demichelis said the news has given the side even more motivation to continue their remarkable run in their debut season in the competition.
“We would like to win this one for [Pellegrini],” the former Bayern Munich defender explained. “We are all sad. He did not tell us at first about his father passing away, that shows his greatness. We have offered him our condolences. He will be with us tomorrow and we will try everything to go through for him.”
Malaga also made several changes to their side against Real Sociedad at the weekend, but, in contrast to Dortmund, they were on the wrong end of a 4-2 result.
Borussia Dortmund (probable)
D: Piszczek, Subotic, Santana, Schmelzer
M: Bender, Gundogan
Grosskreutz, Gotze, Reus
D: Gamez, Demichelis, Lugano, Antunes
M: Camacho, Toulalan
Joaquin, Baptista, Isco
Prediction: Malaga will certainly have been the happiest team after the first leg. While they didn’t score, they crucially avoided the concession of an away goal, despite Dortmund having the better of the play and chances. A goal for the Spaniards at the Signal Iduna Park and Dortmund will have to score twice. The nature of the outdated away-goals rule means that Dortmund will likely be constantly on a knife edge.
Having said that, Dortmund’s home record has been exceptional in Europe this season -- winning all four matches. While Klopp’s men were unusually profligate in front of goal in Spain, it is hard to imagine them being similarly wasteful again. The movement of and interchanges between Gotze, Reus and Lewandowski caused Malaga untold problems and, with Weligton and Iturra missing, Dortmund could pose even more problems second time around.
There may be some nerves along the way, but Dortmund should take their place in the last four.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Malaga
Where to watch: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg will kick-off at 2:45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.