At the Zenith?
Did the players spare themselves for tomorrow's clash with FC Zenit? Did they expect a no-brainer? Sebastian Kehl gave a little insight into BVB's psychic life: "We've been really disappointed and mad on Saturday. We missed the opportunity to make up ground on Leverkusen," he said. "Tomorrow it's Champions League time and we worked hard for these evenings. We'll try to make many things better than Saturday, with a lot of confidence and joy."
In the end one has to cherish, that motivation problems were visual and as if this was not enough, Sven Bender will be out for at least ten weeks. Without exaggeration: The club had way better points of departure.
What to expect in Russia?First worries about horrible weather conditions seem to be unfounded. However, cool four degrees Celsius will animate all eleven players from Dortmund to be in motion. Allthough there was no blizzard in Saint Petersburg for the last weeks, the pitch of Petrovsky Stadium has not been used for several months. Similar to last year's Ukranian opponent Shakhtar Donetsk, the Russian Football Premier League takes a winter break until March the 8th, 2014. In short: FC Zenit finished training camp only a few days ago, meaning Borussia Dortmund is their first endurance test in 2014. Still, a team that is star-studded with players like Criscito, Tymoshchuk, Zyryanov, Witsel, Arshavin, Kerzhakov, Rondon and Hulk, should certainly not be underestimated.
Skipper Sebastian Kehl took the same line on today's media conference: "It's no advantage for us, because they are well prepared. They'll be all geared up." Furthermore he drew a comparison to Shahktar Donetsk, when he told that "both teams got brilliant football individualists, meaning a lot of quality and skill. A similar outcome like in Donetsk would be nice."
While it looked like a wire to wire for FC Zenit in the beginning, FC Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Zenit share a place in the sun with 40 points each. FC Spartak Moscow follows with only one point less, leaving FC Dynamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow only a few points behind. Basically this means: After 19 matchdays everything seems to be up in the air again. A pleasant situation, compared with the boring title race in the German Bundesliga.
Black and Yellow ApproachIn the cases of Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, coach Jürgen Klopp was able to give an light all-clear. While Robert Lewandowki's starting berth seems to be certain, a decision on Mats Hummels will be made this evening. A small relief. Asked on FC Zenit and it's squad, Klopp replied: "We've seen nearly all of their matches, even the test matches. They've got a lot of ball posession and play high-class football. We expect a strong team and single players are not that important. Our respect for Russian football is really huge. It's going to be a thrilling match."
In conclusion one has only to take the words of Kehl to heart: "We estimate FC Zenit much stronger than a few of German journalists and fans. It's going to be a tough match. We want to reach the quarter-finals and we can achieve this - but it's going to be a lot of work."
Hopefully he will end up being right.
FC Zenit: Lodygin - Ansaldi, Lombaerts, Hubocan, Criscito - Fayzulin, Witsel - Hulk, Shatov, Arshavin - Rondon.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Friedrich, Sokratis, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Reus, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang - Lewandowski.
Substitute's Bench: Langerak, Sarr, Hummels, Großkreutz, Hofmann, Ducksch, Kirch, Jojic, Schieber.
Missing: Gündogan, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Subotic.
Referee: William Collum (Scotland)
Kickoff: 25th of March 2014 - 6.00. P.M. CET.
Attendance: Petrovsky Stadium, 21,570 (sold out)