A win at the fourth attempt in UEFA Champions League Group F has reignited Borussia Dortmund‘s belief that the qualifying berths are still within reach but they face an exacting task at the home of Arsenal FC, who hold a one-point advantage at the head of the section.
Victory for Arsène Wenger’s team would assure them of a place in the knockout rounds for the 12th successive season.
The Gunners thought they were heading for an opening-day victory when Robin van Persie gave them the lead against the run of play at the BVB Stadion on matchday one. But Ivan Periši? had other ideas, dispatching a superb late volley to give Dortmund a 1-1 draw.
Arsenal then beat Olympiacos FC 2-1 before giving their hopes of qualifying in first place a real boost with a 1-0 win away to Olympique de Marseille. The return fixture in north London finished goalless.
Dortmund’s second outing in the competition produced a 3-0 defeat in France, followed by a 3-1 reverse away to Olympiacos. Their qualifying hopes were diminishing fast but a 1-0 home defeat of the Greek side has put them in better heart for the trip to England.
These teams were also paired in the same UEFA Champions League section in the 2002/03 first group stage, the last time Dortmund were involved. They went down 2-0 in north London but won 2-1 at home when Tomáš Rosický, now with Arsenal, scored both the German team’s goals, the second a penalty. Sebastian Kehl also played for Dortmund.
Arsenal have won their last five home European games against German visitors and have recorded eight home victories overall with just one defeat and one draw.
Last season’s Bundesliga champions have a habit of beating English opponents in important ties. They overcame Liverpool FC 2-1 in the 1966 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in Glasgow having removed West Ham United FC from their path in the semi-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory.
Dortmund also knocked out Manchester United FC en route to 1996/97 UEFA Champions League glory, winning both legs of their semi-final 1-0.
Including the victory over Udinese Calcio in the play-off round, the Gunners are unbeaten in 12 games in north London in the competition. In the group stage they had won eight in succession before the stalemate on matchday four and have now gone 25 home group games without defeat, 20 of which have resulted in victory. Their last reverse came on 17 September 2003 when FC Internazionale Milano won 3-0 at Highbury.
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