Dortmund, Arsenal renew Champions League rivalry

AP, Monday 15 Sep 2014

Familiarity has bred a healthy respect between Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in the Champions League, with the German club eager to avenge a loss at home against the English team

Dortmund temmates with Shinji Kagawa, center, celebrate after winning the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between BvB Borussia Dortmund and SC Freiburg in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Dortmund, the 2012 Champions League runner-up, will be hosting Arsenal in the competition for the third time in four seasons.

''It's been a while since our last home win over Arsenal. So we have some making up to do,'' said Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl, referring to a 2-1 win over Arsenal in October 2002.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil can expect a difficult time from the fans at the Westfalenstadion because of his time at rival Schalke.

In the other Group D match, Turkish runner-up Galatasaray and Belgian champion Anderlecht will play in Istanbul.

Here are some things to know about Group D of the Champions League:

Poor starters                           

Both Dortmund and Arsenal won their respective away games when they met last season and the German side has a poor record when it comes to starting the Champions League. Dortmund has won only one of its last six opening games in the competition.

''We want a good start. We want a home victory,'' said Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, who has a pelvic injury.

Despite losing to Napoli and Arsenal in the group stage last season, Dortmund finished at the top on goal difference and only bowed out in the quarterfinals after beating eventual champion Real Madrid 2-0 for a 3-2 aggregate loss.


Returning fan favorite Shinji Kagawa scored on his second debut for Dortmund in the 3-1 win over Freiburg on Saturday. The Japan midfielder also helped set up the opening goal in what was an outstanding performance before he was forced off with cramps.

Kagawa, who endured two frustrating seasons at Manchester United, still needs time to get back to his best, according to Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, but that hasn't stopped burgeoning expectations at the Westfalenstadion.

Kagawa, who scored Dortmund's consolation in the side's 2-1 loss to Arsenal in November 2011, has been involved in 40 goals in 70 appearances for the club.

''We will now ensure that Shinji finds an environment that helps him get back to his old self,'' Klopp said.

Injuries mean Kagawa will likely get another chance to impress against Arsenal.

Injuries galore

Borussia Dortmund's injury list is long. Attacking midfielder Marco Reus was ruled out for four weeks with a left ankle injury sustained on duty for Germany, and Jakub Blaszczykowski had a setback to his return from a cruciate knee injury with a muscle injury in training.

Midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Nuri Sahin are also out, as is defender Oliver Kirch with a thigh injury. Hummels was only expected to return to training on Wednesday.

New signing Ciro Immobile recovered from the knock he picked up playing for Italy to make a substitute appearance against Freiburg.

Also, Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy has a serious-looking ankle injury from the side's 2-2 draw with Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday. Debuchy is reportedly facing two months out but would have been suspended for Tuesday anyway following his red card in the playoff against Besiktas.

Midfielders Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey both shook off ankle problems to play full games against City.

Defensive problems

Arsenal plugged a gap up front by signing Danny Welbeck on the final day of the transfer window. Manager Arsene Wenger may now be regretting not bolstering his defense, too.

The English club begins its 17th straight season in the group stage of the Champions League with defensive problems due to Debuchy's absence.

Calum Chambers will fill in at right back but it leaves no senior cover in that position or at center back, with Wenger having sold Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona in the off-season.

In attack, it will likely be a choice between Welbeck, who made his debut against City, and Alexis Sanchez as lone striker as Olivier Giroud is a long-term injury absentee.

The closest Wenger has come to winning the Champions League in his 18 years at Arsenal was an appearance in the final in 2006, when it lost to Barcelona 2-1.

''For him, that would be the icing on the cake if you like,'' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere said. ''I think this is the one he really, really wants.''

Istanbul calling

Former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli makes his Champions League debut with Galatasaray after taking charge in July. Galatasaray has only played Anderlecht once before, in the second round of the 1976-77 European Cup Winners' Cup, when Anderlecht won 5-1 both at home and away.

Prandelli's side played a scoreless draw at home with Eskisehirspor in the Turkish league after beating Bursaspor 2-1 in the opening week.

Anderlecht also drew, 2-2 at Lierse SK on Saturday, but maintained its eight-game unbeaten start to the season. The side is unbeaten in seven games away from home, including the Belgian Super Cup.

Search Keywords:
Short link: