Preview: Zenit hoping for a European miracle in Dortmund

AFP, Wednesday 19 Mar 2014

Dortmund players celebrate their win in the first leg last week. (Photo: Reuters)

Borussia Dortmund host Zenit St Petersburg in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday with the Russians admitting they need a minor miracle to progress.

Last season's runners-up Dortmund enjoyed a 4-2 win in the first leg in St Petersburg three weeks ago and Zenit have since sacked Italian coach Luciano Spalletti.

Former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder and ex-Russia captain Sergei Semak has since been named as Zenit's interim coach and the 38-year-old will be on the touchline in Dortmund.

"We want to perform with dignity in the return match with Borussia. Of course our chances are slim, but miracles sometimes happen," Semak said ahead of the game.

Both teams come into the Westfalenstadion clash on the back of defeats.

Zenit went down 1-0 at the hands of reigning champions CSKA Moscow on Saturday and it was the second consecutive Russian Premier League match in which they have failed to score.

Meanwhile, Dortmund suffered a 2-1 loss at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga as coach Jurgen Klopp was sent from the dugout for arguing with the fourth official, a misdemeanour for which he was later fined 10,000 euros ($13,926) by the German Football Association.

Only two teams have ever won a Champions League knockout tie after losing the first leg at home, but Zenit are at least near full-strength for the game.

Dortmund, meanwhile, are set to welcome back Germany winger Marco Reus from injury and playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan from suspension.

However, Germany midfielder Sven Bender is not expected back until late next month due to a groin injury, while İlkay Gündogan has been sidelined since mid-August due to compression of the spine.

Centre-back Neven Subotic is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing knee ligaments and Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski will not play again this term after sustaining a knee injury in late January.

"Now we need to forget about the (Moenchengladbach) defeat quickly and focus on Zenit," said Dortmund's Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who has six goals in seven Champions League games this season, including a brace in the first leg.

Despite their healthy advantage, full-back Marcel Schmelzer insists that Dortmund are taking nothing for granted.

"On Wednesday, the next tough match awaits us. We don't believe that we are already in the quarter-finals," he said. "St Petersburg will demand a lot of us all."

If Zenit are to reach the last eight of Europe's premier club competition for the first time, they must inflict a rare European home defeat on Klopp's side.

Dortmund have won eight of their last nine Champions League home matches, with the exception being a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the group stage in November.

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