The fact that the UEFA Champions League has an established order is no secret. Let us take a look back to demonstrate just that. In 2008, Manchester United and Chelsea contested the final. In 2009 United took on Barcelona, one of the previous season’s semifinalists, in the final. In 2010, two teams from former hierarchies, Inter Milan and Bayern München, contested the final. In 2011, once again United and Barca took center stage. In 2012, Bayern lost out dramatically on home soil to Chelsea.
And then in 2013, Bayern was finally crowned against Borussia Dortmund.
That’s right –Borussia Dortmund contested the final beating Real Madrid, Malaga with a bit of luck and Shaktar Donetsk along the way. Dortmund is not part of the current established order. They rose from the ashes and surprised so many, that neutrals worldwide stood together in their support.
This time, a last gasp goal from Kevin Grosskreutz saw them not only get out of the group stage but also top a group containing Arsenal, Napoli and Marseille a bit unexpectedly. The draw they received is definitely not kind. Zenit however has not played competitively since 11th December, when they were hammered by Austria Wien. They qualified for this stage with only six points to their name, whereas Napoli missed out with exactly double that tally in their group.
Zenit will be able to call on the experience of a former Bayern stalwart who faced Dortmund quite a few times in his time in Bavaria. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is prepared to help out Luciano Spalleti with insider information as UEFA’s official website found out:
“If the coach needs my help in preparing for the match, I am willing to assist in any way I can.”
Also, Tymoshchuk did not read much into the recent 3-0 defeat of Dortmund in the hands of Hamburer SV. The Bundesliga title race is as good as over for them; they sit 20 points behind the leaders, Bayern. The former Bayern star took that into perspective in his comments to UEFA’s official website:
“That happens when a team is preparing for the Champions League.
“In the Bundesliga everything is clear, Bayern can be called champions. Dortmund are also focused on the Champions League, so I would not be surprised if they specifically left something to spare before meeting us.”
Zenit will be unable to call on the services of Danny, Roman Shirkov and Cristian Ansaldi. For Dortmund, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Ilkay Gündogan, Neven Subotic and as of this week, Sven Bender, are out. Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski are slight doubts but both should be able to feature. Jürgen Klopp had Gündogan’s services to call on for most of last season as well as that of Subotic and Blaszczykowski. They will be sorely missed. His side had won four games on the trot before losing to HSV though and might still manage to pull something out.
Can BVB take control of the tie? Or will Zenit spring a surprise?
Watch Zenit Saint Petersburg vs Borussia Dortmund live on Tuesday, February 25, 2014:
In Canada at 12:00 ET:
|Canada||Sportsnet World, Sportsnet World Online|
In Germany at 18:00 CET:
|Germany||Sky Go, Sky Sport 1 Germany, TeleClub Sport, Sky Sport 1 HD|
In Russia at 21:00 local time:
|Russia||NTV+ Sport Online, Sportbox.ru, NTV Russia, NTV+ Football|
In the UK at 17:00 GMT:
|United Kingdom||Sky Sports Events Centre, Sky Sports Red Button, Sky Sports 1/HD|
In the USA at 12:00 ET:
|United States||Fox Sports 1 USA, Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Deportes|
For the complete TV listings and live scores upon kick-off, visit the Zenit-Dortmund match page.
|Angers SCO||Apr 25|
|Bayern München||Apr 26|
|Crystal Palace||Apr 26|
|Deportivo La Coruña||Apr 26|
|Manchester City||Apr 27|
|Cardiff City||Apr 28|