Borussia vs. Russia
With the 4-2 victory away at Zenit St. Petersburg a few weeks back, Borussia Dortmund has all aces in their hands to advance to the quarter final of the Champions League. Zenit needs a victory with a three-goal-lead and if you think about the first meeting of the Russians and Borussians, it is hard to believe that this could happen, especially when you remember that the first of the two goals was off-side and the second one was a penalty which could be highly put into question. Therefore: Will it be an easy advance to the quarter finals tomorrow evening? Oh, hell no.
At a first glance, the match against St. Petersburg will be only about reaching the next round. However, at a second glance, it is about something more. Borussia has something to prove and Borussia has to make up for the loss at home against Mönchengladbach on Saturday. The fans in the temple have seen four losses at home this season in the Bundesliga and are expecting a lot more in beautiful Westfalenstadion. Of course, the expectations of those supporters can be put into question (because there are a lot of fans thinking that due to the recent title wins and victories over the last years, every game should be an automatic win) but everyone who went to the game on Saturday will hope for something better on Wednesday. Especially with the derby coming up next week, Borussia needs to gain some momentum and what better way to do so with another victory against St. Petersburg?
However, the focus of course should stay on the match itself, not on the derby, not on the Bundesliga, not on making up for the loss on Saturday. These are factors that could be taken into account as well, but do not underestimate the match against St. Petersburg. It may seem unlikely that Zenit will score three goals (and that Borussia scores no goals at all), but what if they score an early goal, double the lead shortly before half time (just like Gladbach did on Saturday) and would then go on to make pressure during the second half? Zenit still has several good players – not only Hulk – in their team and will do their very best to make the impossible possible. Borussia has to fight as well and throw everything on the pitch, has to be focused and has to show the will to advance to the round of the best eight clubs in Europe. If they do not, they still risk to go out of the competition. But coach Jürgen Klopp and his staff are known as men who warn their players repeatedly not to take a match lightly and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke already stated that even though they are the favorite in the match, this does not mean that the favorite has to advance necessarily. Klopp underlined that by saying that if they would not be asked whether they could take this match likely, they would go into the match like it would be a normal game which needs to be won.
Marco Reus did not participate in the final training session on Wednesday and therefore will not be able to make it to the squad in time so he will miss the match as well as the long term injured players Subotic, Gündogan, Kuba and Bender. In comparison to the Bundesliga match on Saturday, however, Henrikh Mkhitaryan who missed the Gladbach match because of his fifth booking, will be able to play and should most likely replace youngster Jonas Hofmann.
Zenit St. Petersburg officially announced former Tottenham coach Andre Vilas-Boas as their new head coach today, but he will not be on the bench in Dortmund on Wednesday evening because he is set to be presented on Thursday so that BVB does not has to be afraid of the infamous “new coach-effect” in their 200th match in European Competitions. Until today, 99 of these 200 matches in club history were won so that tomorrow could see two anniversaries.
Eventually, even though Borussia needs momentum and a victory the first step into the next round was taken during the first leg, the final step has to be taken as well. Not only by the eleven to 14 players standing on the pitch, but also by each and everyone on the stands. Let’s hope for a great atmosphere in the famous Westfalenstadion and let’s hope for a victory by the players in black and yellow. Main sponsor Evonik stated in an advertisement today that eleven Borussians are better than eleven Russians. Let’s hope that they are right. Heja BVB!
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Aubameyang, H. Mkhitaryan, Großkreutz - Lewandowski
Zenit St. Petersburg: Lodygin - Anyukov, Hubocan, Lombaerts, Criscito - Witsel, Zyryanov - Hulk, Fayzulin, Shatov - Rondon
Referee: Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
Location: Westfalenstadion Dortmund