Tuesday night’s clash between Borussia Dortmund and Malaga played host to perhaps the most dramatic and entertaining ending of recent Champions League history. When it looked as though Malaga’s shock troops had done enough to see them through with the home side all but succumbed to defeat, Jurgen Klopp’s players drew one last breath and threw themselves into the breach. Aided of course by some poor officiating (of which both sides can claim to be on the end of) for the all decisive final goal, they grasped victory from the jaws of despair through the sheer force of will on a night when it just hadn’t clicked for them.
With the hype machine around this Dortmund side still growing by each passing minute and many still tagging them as dark horses for the tournament; questions have to be asked why they struggled so much against Pellegrini’s Malaga?
The absence of Mats Hummels was sorely felt in defence. Subotic and Santana ping-ponged the ball back and forth to each other with neither of them comfortable being given the duty of bringing the ball out of defence. Hummels’ passing qualities akin to a quarter-back normally eradicate this issue.
The ever-growing dilemma of neatly fitting in both Mario Gotze and Marco Reus. With Gotze no longer being content to play a supporting role out on the right, his move into the centre of the supporting three forces Reus out onto the left. It is obvious Reus is a player whose strengths come to the fore when he is in those central areas. The exquisite assist for Lewandoski’s goal tonight being a prime example of this. This continuing issue for Klopp only really comes to the fore against the better sides but it is one that looks like it has no real obvious solution to it.
BvB’s biggest enemy over the course of the two legs was their wastefulness in front of goal. The failure to secure an away goal came back to frighten them tonight.
As the match wore on, Jurgen Klopp grew more and more frustrated at what he was seeing. With injury time approaching and two goals needed for his side, a time when most managers in a similar situation would have admitted defeat, Klopp roared his young side on, screaming at them to keep going and never let the heads drop. That is why this man has driven this side from the doldrums of mediocrity back into living rooms all over Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and the team on everyone’s lips.
Sterner tests await Borussia Dortmund but what a ride it has been so far!