Arsenal, Dortmund vie for 1st place in Group D
DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — The only thing left to resolve in Group D of the Champions League is which team will finish top, Arsenal or Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund has 12 points and needs a point from its last match against Anderlecht to make sure of finishing as group winner — unless Arsenal wins at Galatasaray by more than six goals.
Anderlecht will finish third no matter what and will join the Europa League round of 32 after the break.
Galatasaray cannot advance to the next round.
Here are some things to know about Tuesday’s matches:
Borussia Dortmund had found itself in a bizarre situation — among the top 16 clubs in Europe but struggling in the Bundesliga. The 1-0 victory over Hoffenheim lifted the 2011 and 2012 champion out of the drop zone.
Jurgen Klopp made several changes for Friday’s win, leaving four World Cup winners on the bench, including Roman Weidenfeller, Germany’s back-up goalkeeper in Brazil. Mitch Langerak, an Australian, played his 12th Bundesliga match and notched his 10th win whilst keeping a clean sheet.
Klopp has been noncommittal about the future but Langerak, Weidenfeller’s lontgtime understudy, could end up with a permanent promotion. Weidenfeller said it was a coaching decision “I have to accept.”
Ilkay Gundogan was considered one of Germany’s top midfielders until a back injury sidelined him. Gundogan decided against surgery and spent 14 months recovering.
The midfielder is back just in time to help Dortmund out of the doldrums. Gundogan scored the winning goal against Hoffenheim with a rare header but also provided the much needed creative spark and the passing he had been known for before his injury.
“I just have to get used now again to the full load but my back is fine,” Gundogan said. Defender Mats Hummels described Gundogan as a “fantastic player who was one of the best in his role” until the injury.
Arsenal has learnt to its cost the perils of finishing second in a Champions League group.
The English club was runner-up in three of its last four campaigns, earning last-16 matches against Bayern Munich twice and Barcelona. Arsenal lost all three encounters.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may, though, choose to rest star forward Alexis Sanchez after saying the Chile international was “in the red zone” in reference to his fitness before playing him for the full ninety minutes in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Stoke in the Premier League.
GALATASARAY SEEKS PRESTIGE
With only one point from five games so far, Galatasaray has been eliminated from European competitions for the season and has sacked Italian coach Cesare Prandelli.
For the Turks, Tuesday’s match against Arsenal is simply a matter of prestige and a vote of confidence in their new manager Hamza Hamzaoglu, the assistant national team coach who replaced Prandelli last week.
“We play against Arsenal — it is an important game from the point of view of prestige and for our self-confidence,” Hamzaoglu said.
Anderlecht has nothing to play for and is seeking to end a miserable run that has seen it losing twice and drawing once in its last three Belgian league matches.
However, Anderlecht remains unbeaten in its away matches in the group, drawing both in Istanbul and coming from three goals down to draw 3-3 against Arsenal in London.
The Belgian team will be without midfielder Steven Defour because of a calf injury.