Zenit’s new coach won’t be on bench in Dortmund
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Borussia Dortmund holds a 4-2 lead from the first leg at Zenit St. Petersburg and looks sure to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals following Wednesday’s return match.
The league is Dortmund’s only remaining shot as a title this season. Here are five things to know about the match:
NEW COACH FOR ZENIT: Andre Villas-Boas has been hired as the new coach to replace Luciano Spalletti, who was fired last week. The former Tottenham coach signed a deal with the Russian club until the end of the 2015-16 season. Villas-Boas will be presented in St. Petersburg on Thursday, and former Russia midfielder Sergei Semak is in interim charge. Spalletti’s job ended after a run of one win in 11 competitive matches, including the 4-2 defeat at home to Dortmund.
OLD HABITS FOR DORTMUND COACH: Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp has had trouble keeping his volatile temper in check again. Klopp was sent off late in the 2-1 home loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach over the weekend and promptly fined 10,000 euros ($13,900). Klopp says he did not insult the referee, just questioned one of his decisions. But Klopp’s menacing facial expressions and loud outbursts have become part of his image in the Bundesliga. Klopp’s total in fines has reached 58,000 euros ($80,600), but he has not been banned from matches. In the Champions League, however, he was banned for two games after confronting the fourth officials in this season’s opening match.
KNOCKOUT STAGE RECORD: This is the first time in 16 years Dortmund has qualified for the Champions League knockout phase for two seasons running. The last time, in 1997, it lifted the trophy under Ottmar Hitzfeld. In 1998, under coach Nevio Scala, Dortmund reached the semifinals. Klopp’s team reached the final last season, when it lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich.
LOOKING FOR CENTURY: Dortmund will be playing its 199th competition match in Europe, having won 99. It has won eight of its last nine Champions League matches. Of the 12 UEFA competition ties in which it won the first leg away, Dortmund has went through on aggregate 11 times. The only failure came against Genk in the 2004 Intertoto Cup third round when Dortmund lost 2-1 at home after a 1-0 win away, and was eliminated on away goals. Zenit has been eliminated all three times after losing at home in the first leg, all in the UEFA Cup. Dortmund has not conceded a goal at home in two previous matches against Russian opposition.
GOOD OMEN: Dortmund is not worried by the 2-1 loss to the namesake from Moenchengladbach. On the contrary, the club thinks it could be a good omen, since the last three Champions League wins all came on the heels of Bundesliga losses. The comfortable cushion from the first leg also relaxes the club. ”If we fail to take advantage of this situation, then it will be our own fault,” captain Sebastian Kehl said. That doesn’t mean Dortmund will be taking the match lightly. ”We still haven’t qualified. We have to be careful,” striker Robert Lewandowski said.