Dortmund 3-2 Malaga: Pellegrini's Defensive Magnificence Beaten by Genius Moment

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 9, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - APRIL 03:  Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Malaga CF and Borussia Dortmund at La Rosaleda Stadium on April 3, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund progressed to the UEFA Champions League semifinals after beating Malaga 3-2 at Signal Iduna Park.

The game was exciting to say the least, with Malaga taking a 2-1 lead into the 90th minute only to concede twice in stoppage time and subsequently lose the tie.

Here, we analyse the tactics used by both sides and ignore the offside controversies.



Both teams used a 4-2-3-1 formation. Malaga's was very defensive, built to contain and frustrate, while Dortmund's was fluid, quick and adaptable, as you'd expect.


Defensive Malaga

The visitors' approach was obvious—they're one of the most defensively sound sides in Europe, and they would arrive in Germany to counterattack and soak up pressure.

Malaga rarely committed more than three players to any given attack, and the holding midfield pivot was an extremely cautious outlet instructed to shield and protect.

Such was the fantastic job Jeremy Toulalan and rising star Ignacio Camacho did. Mario Goetze was switched out to the right-hand side late in the first half—playing centrally, he didn't get a kick.

They stood off Dortmund and let them have the ball—particularly when either Neven Subotic or Felipe Santana were in possession—and asked the question: Can you break us down?

The 58 percent possession in favour of BVB was starting to look a little useless.


Aerial disaster

Klopp's side cannot defend high balls.

They struggled to keep it together in the Round of 16 game against Shakhtar Donetsk when they lumped it forward, and the sight of Julio Baptista will have had BVB worried.

Malaga failed to take advantage of that mismatch often enough, but on the one occasion they truly did put it in the air to see what could happen, Julio's knock-down led to Joaquin's opening goal.

Withstanding Dortmund pressure only to lump it out of defence can be an exhausting way of playing, so you can see why Manuel Pellegrini wouldn't advocate it on a full-time basis.

That said, five more contests for Baptista and another goal may well have come.


Dortmund's troubles

Despite scoring three goals, progressing to the semifinals and boasting a bit of a golazo from Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund cannot claim they played well with any sincerity.

Key players had a tinge of stage fright on the night, but los Boquerones should be credited with how they managed BVB's key attacking outlets.

Ilkay Gundogan was closely marked, and it was the nullification of him that laid credence to Manuel Pellegrini's selection of Duda in a central No. 10 position.

Camacho and Toulalan stayed an equal distance apart and looked a very impressive duo, forcing both Goetze and Reus out wide for service while Antunes was surprisingly good considering his relative inexperience at this level.

Such a well-drilled side was not going to be broken down unless Dortmund conjured one of two things: an immense amount of luck or a stunning dose of genius.


Genius, they chose

Lewandowski's goal was something to behold.

It was the one and only time, after Malaga forced a turnover near the halfway line, that they decided to commit four or five players forward.

A quick interception saw Malaga out of position and Goetze, hugging the left after being shoved outside, fed Reus, whose sumptuous flick found Lewy to do the damage.


Silver lining?

Dortmund's struggles could have been alleviated by having Mats Hummels in the side.

No centre-back on the roster has the ball-playing skills Mats does, so with Gundogan rendered useless and Toulalan winning the battle for the centre, a creator at the back was sorely missed.

Subotic is a very good defender and Santana a serviceable one, but neither stood a chance in dictating this game. Many aimless balls were lofted forward, and with Martin Demichelis in demonic form, BVB had little luck.

Hummels was brought on in the dying minutes having returned to fitness, and Klopp will head into the semifinal knowing his talisman is back. If Gundogan and Goetze are nullified again, Hummels can certainly have a say in proceedings.

When Nuri Sahin came on, Klopp effectively added another creative talent to the midfield. This sacrificed defensive stability (through Sven Bender), but also negated the marking job on Gundogan.

The aimless balls forward became accurate ones, and the Turk created two very decent chances: one for Lukasz Piszczek to fire in a low cross and one for the second goal.


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