German side Dortmund qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League last night, after defeating Malaga 3-2 in the second leg of the quarter-final clash.
It was an incredible outcome, considering the score was 2-1 until stoppage-time.
Dortmund making it through to the last four looked near impossible when the clock ticked around to 90 minutes.
However, two stoppage-time goals broke Malaga hearts and sent Dortmund’s highly-rated young team through to the semi-finals.
In truth, Malaga had performed superbly and Dortmund had been poor for most of the clash. The first Dortmund goal was a rare showing of the German sides’ quality, Marco Reus producing a fantastic back-heeled through-ball for Robert Lewandowski to score the equalising goal.
It was slightly ironic that Dortmund are noted for their passing style, yet the injury-time goals came from a more direct style of football.
I remember the days when English teams had a habit of throwing their big centre-back up front when they needed a goal. Well Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp tried that in last night’s game and the tactic paid dividends.
Klopp brought on Mats Hummel on and put Brazilian centre-back Felipe Santana up front. The big defender had a hand in the first goal and then scored the crucial winning goal from close-range.
It may not have been tactical genius, but the simple adjustment got his team through to the semi-finals. The decision was an example of why Klopp is such a highly-rated boss. He is willing to be flexible with his approach.
He does have a plan b, no matter how old-fashioned or simple it is. Some bosses do not have a plan b and their teams fail to win trophies.
To win trophies you need luck and Dortmund got some with the winner. Centre-back Santana was offside when he scored from a couple of yards out, but the referee’s assistant did not raise his flag.
Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini and the players from the Spanish side were furious. However, Malaga’s second goal also looked offside, so maybe the poor decisions were equal.
Dortmund remains the only unbeaten team left in the competition. The German side survived games against Spanish champions Real Madrid and English champions Manchester City in the group stage.
Dortmund is a young team, but will have to improve their performances if they are to win the trophy. They have already proven against the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid that they can compete with the big boys in European football.
Dortmund are likely to have to be at their best in the semi-finals, with the possibility of having to face compatriots and rivals Bayern Munich, or Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Bayern and Barcelona face the second legs of their semi-finals this evening. Both teams are favourites to progress into the last four of the competition.
I have to say that Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Dortmund have been the teams that have impressed me most in this season’s competition. All four teams could claim the trophy.
On their day Dortmund have the quality to defeat all the teams left in the competition. However, they cannot afford to drop their performance level against the better teams. Klopp’s team dropped their performance level against Malaga and came close to exiting the competition.
Whether Dortmund claims the Champions League crown remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure is that the football gods were on their side last night.
Was Dortmund lucky to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League?