Last season’s beaten finalists, Borussia Dortmund host Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday night, holding a two goal advantage over their Russian opponents, and having the added cushion of scoring four away goals in the reverse fixture.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and a Robert Lewandowski double, in between goals from Oleg Shatov and Hulk, gave Jurgen Klopp’s side victory in the Petrovosky Stadium and more or less sealed the German’s pathway to their second consecutive quarter-final appearance. If Zenit have any hope of progressing then they must go to the Westfalenstadion and win by three goals without conceding, with Bayern Munich being the only team to have achieved that feat so far this season.
Wednesday’s match will be only the second time these two sides have faced one another in a competitive competition and they both come into the game off the back of weekend defeats. Dortmund were beaten 2-1 at home in the Bundesliga by Borussia Monchengladbach, whereas Zenit suffered a 1-0 defeat away to CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier.
Dortmund go into the game sitting second in their domestic league, which is the best they can hope for this season, with them trailing leaders Bayern Munich by 23 points, meaning that their progress in Europe has taken on added importance. They are still missing their highly rated central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has a back injury, as well as other long term absentee’s Neven Subotic and Jakub Blaszczykowski. Sven Bender also misses out due to a groin injury.
Big spending Zenit are also second in their league and still look to have a real chance of securing the title, only being three points behind Lokomotiv Moscow. Their main injury worries are former Arsenal attacker Andrei Arshavin who has a thigh injury and Argentinian right-back Cristian Ansaldi.
The task then is a daunting one, but Zenit’s new manager, former Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas will be watching on and will hoping to get a good look at the attacking options he will have at his disposal. Along with Hulk and Shatov they also possess Venezuelan frontman Saloman Rondon and Portuguese playmaker Danny. Ultimately though they will have to improve defensively, the Russian side were run ragged in the first leg by the German’s, with Zenit not being able to handle their well respected attacking style of play. If they do not learn from the previous legs mistakes then it will be a long night for the Russians.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday 7:45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Zenit st Petersburg 2 (Shatov, Hulk)- 4 Borussia Dortmund (Mkhitaryan, Reus, Lewandowski 2)
Wednesday will be only the second time Borussia Dortmund and Zenit St Petersburg have faced each other in the history of the two European clubs.
Dortmund have only conceded three goals at home without scoring once this season, against league leaders and current Champions League holder Bayern Munich.
Apart from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund are the only side in the Bundesliga this season who have a goal difference of over twenty.
Borussia Dortmund handed Zenit St Petersburg their only home defeat of the season in the first leg of this tie
If Dortmund progress it will be the first time they have reached consecutive quarter-finals in 16 years.
Borussia Dortmund: 1.33
Zenit St Petersburg: 10
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