The stage could hardly be more perfectly set as the current youthful ensembles of two great clubs come head to head. Both sides have six points from three games after Dortmund’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in London on Matchday 3, and the winner will propel themselves into pole position to qualify for the knockout stages from a highly-competitive group that also contains S.S.C Napoli and Olympique de Marseille.
'Wasn't a surprise'
The competitiveness was highlighted in Dortmund's win two weeks ago, “which wasn’t a surprise,” said coach Jürgen Klopp. “At this level there are very few surprises.” The result was better than the performance on that London evening, where Robert Lewandowski scored the winner, and according to the BVB boss, round two will be just as tough for his leading striker. “It will be an intense game for him this time against Arsenal’s defence,” warned Klopp about the striker who hit a hat-trick against VfB Stuttgart on Friday.
Marco Reus was in scintillating form against Stuttgart, but is expecting an Arsenal side who top the Premier League to put up more resistance, “it will be a close game,” said the 24-year-old, who scored in Dortmund’s last home win in this competition against Marseille. “It’s 50-50, and we know that any mistakes will be ruthlessly punished.”
Stats out of the window
Dortmund, who have never lost on home turf to English visitors, are hunting an eighth straight European home win in succession. Yet the charismatic Klopp paid the numbers no mind ahead of this mouthwatering clash. “They’ve got plenty of quality and statistics mean nothing. The only advantage we have is that we’ll be playing in front of our fantastic home crowd.”
One of the crowd’s usual darlings, centre-half Mats Hummels is “97.5 per cent certain not to play” according to Klopp, but he did confirm that Marcel Schmelzer has been given the “thumbs up". Klopp is otherwise preparing for a clash with Wenger, whose side he compared to an “orchestra”, with no fresh personnel concerns.
Özil and the German renaissance
“Orchestra and rock music was not exactly meant to be a comparison of the teams,” Klopp added. “More a comparison of Wenger and myself.” The former 1. FSV Mainz 05 defender expressed pride at his side’s running of eleven and a half kilometres more than Arsenal in the 2-1 win, but his counterpart Wenger seemed unconcerned. “It’s not about how much you run, it’s about how intelligently you run.”
Arsenal’s “intelligent running” is built around Mesut Özil’s “exceptional technical quality and vision”, says his coach. Özil, formerly of FC Schalke 04, has been in remarkable form since his summer arrival, and is a product of a German youth system that Wenger admires: "The players get a chance to prove themselves much earlier here.” Klopp and Reus will be hoping to show that by drowning out the Arsenal orchestra, such a system continues to bear fruit.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Subotic, Sokratis, Schmelzer - S. Bender, Sahin - Aubameyang, H. Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
Arsenal FC: Szczesny - Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal - Ramsey, Arteta - Rosicky, Özil, Cazorla - Giroud
Have a look at Marco Reus' sensational strike against Stuttgart, and unusual celebration, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: