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Apr 1, 2013

Joaquin: Spain is behind Malaga

Malaga attacker Joaquin Sanchez says the whole of Spain is behind his team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Borussia Dortmund.

• Dortmund struck by injury crisis

While Barcelona and Real Madrid were expected to reach this stage of the competition, few thought Malaga would make it to the quarter-finals in their debut Champions League campaign.

Their run has come despite financial issues that saw star players such as Santi Cazorla sold last summer as well as reports that wages had gone unpaid.

Winger Joaquin, who has also played for Valencia and Real Betis in the competition, said the effort made by the Malaga players to get so far meant everyone in Spain was urging them on.

"These are the games that a footballer likes to play, with a super atmosphere against a great team like Borussia," he said.

"The excitement is arriving in our dressing room from all over Spain. Wherever you go, not just in Malaga, people welcome you and tell you they are behind Malaga.

"The sacrifice we put in is being rewarded, and people recognise that. When you see the faces of supporters, old and young, they are full of pride and excitement. That makes us believe that this might not be over yet."

The former Spain international said he recognised that the Bundesliga champions were a great team.

But he stressed that he saw the tie as 50-50 given the way in which Malaga had performed when overcoming opponents including AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg and Porto.

"Dortmund are an aggressive team, and physically very strong," he said. "We are playing a great team who have beaten Real Madrid, but we can get a good result against them.

"We both have the same chance to go through. Big teams show themselves in this type of game.

"We have not given the last word yet. We are a strong candidate to go even further in the competition. In the most difficult moments, we have known how to come together and pull through."

Asked what he would call a good result from the first leg, Joaquin gave a characteristically tongue-in-cheek answer.

"Maybe a 6-0," he said. "Anything over eight would be a good result. We could then be relaxed going to Germany."

Joaquin was speaking after training on Monday, where no new injury problems were reported after Saturday's 3-1 La Liga win at Rayo Vallecano.

Portuguese left-sided player Eliseu, who missed that game after a nagging knee injury flared up again in training on Thursday, has not yet been ruled out completely for Wednesday.

Chile international playmaker Pedro Morales, who starred against Rayo with two assists and a superb long-range goal, is unavailable to coach Manuel Pellegrini because he was not included in Malaga's Champions League squad.

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