Fixture Dates: 3rd April 2013 and 9th April 2013
Borussia Dortmund v Malaga: The Rising Stars of European Football
No Messi vs. Ibrahimovich or Schweinsteiger vs. Pirlo or Ronaldo vs. Drogba in this one. This is not to say that these two teams don’t have exceptional players; far from it because both boast an array of them. BVB have the prolific Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski while Malaga has the highly rated Isco and the revived talents of Javier Saviola, Roque Santa Cruz and Joaquin Sanchez.
Both teams play a simple passing game and possession based football. They also take lots of shots on goal when in attack, and play the offside trap when in defence. Both employ the 4-2-3-1 formation as a default, the only difference being that Malaga’s application of it requires attacking more often from the wings.
BvB however, is very weak against defending through balls and also in maintaining the lead. On the other hand, Malaga’s weaknesses lie in defending counter-attacks and also being subject to lots of individual errors.
With such similarities and simplicity, plus the world class players that both teams have in all departments, this could well be the most balanced and fascinating game of football to watch in the quarters. As both teams are not so aggressive, there’ll be fewer fouls and cards thus continuity and a free flowing, friendly feel atmosphere. A game played in good spirit.
Temptation inclines that Dortmund will just edge it but if the team from Spain gets early goals then it will be an uphill task for the Germans to get to the next stage. This may be a high scoring fixture. The tension that goes with the unfamiliarity of reaching this stage and the need to not make mistakes so as to secure further progress may reduce the amount of goals. But, with the teams so equally balanced, the margin for victory may just be one goal.
Nonetheless it will be a scintillating fixture.
Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Turkish Delight
Real Madrid’s road to the Quarter finals has been anything but simple. Being drawn in the Group of Death with the League Champions from Netherlands, Germany and England in the group stages meant they had an uphill task from the get go. Add this to the poor form they were displaying in La Liga plus the dressing room squabbles between the manager Jose Mourinho and prominent team members such as Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil and even team captain Iker Casillas, and it is no wonder that Real Madrid had to struggle to make into the knock out stages.
Even then, they needed help from a Turkish referee to register a slim 3-2 aggregate win over Manchester United. A game where even the Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho admitted that, “the best team lost”. They finally seem to have gotten a break as far as the draw is concerned after being drawn against the Turkish side Galatasaray.
Although it seems that the draw has favoured them they can be assured that the Turks will not do them any favours in this round. The Galatasaray squad that began the Champions League campaign in September and narrowly beat out CFR Cluj in the group stage is not the same squad that overcame Schalke FC in the Knock out stages. There are two very distinctive differences in the squad and their names are Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba. When the club brought in Sneijder and Drogba in the January transfer window they brought in quality attacking players not to mention priceless experience.
Both have played in the Champions League for several consecutive years, Sneijder with Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan while Drogba with Olympique Marseille and Chelsea FC. In fact, both have lifted the Champions League Trophy with the most latter of their former clubs – Sneijder in 2010, Drogba just last year.
The tie might therefore be closer than many think.
We can however never discount a club that has talents such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Ozil and Xabi Alonso, while still being able to have the likes of Kaka and Luca Modric as backup. And with the Champions League trophy being Real Madrid’s only hope for a major trophy this season one would assume that Real Madrid will edge out Galatasaray. However, do not be surprised if Galatasaray put up a proper fight and go down swinging.
*** All images courtesy of zimbio.com ***