Excluding Olympique de Marseille the competition of group F is still wide open. When Arsenal FC and Olympique de Marseille and Borussia Dortmund and SSC Napoli face each other in tonight’s Champions League showdown three teams will play for their entry in the knock-out phase.
But let’s face it: The Gunners have an advantage over their rival Borussia Dortmund as they are sitting comfortable with nine point to play against the winless Olympique de Marseille.
And Dortmund are at a low point.
As we reported earlier the team from West of Germany are in crisis due to poor results and injuries. German newspaper Bild even write: “Klopp’s first major crisis” – describing it as the toughest challenge he has faced since taking over as manager in 2008.
Klopp will miss some great players tonight due to injuries: Arsenal and Manchester United target Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, and Neven Subotic are sidelined with injuries. Especially a tough loss on defense as three internationals are hard to compensate.
Three interesting stats underline the theory of Dortmund’s slump:
- It started with the home loss to Arsenal 20 days ago. Since that day Dortmund haven’t won and was defeated in all of their three games. Their first three game lossing streak since 2010.
- Dortmund’s match against Munich on Saturday was the first game since 2009 that last year’s Champions League runners-up played without Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic. Dortmund haven't been successful with both players sidelined.
- With Hummels and Schmelzer Arsenal’s opponent won 87.5% of their matches in Bundesliga. With both German international defenders out they won only 50%. An obvious trend which might be true for Champions League as well.
Arsenal’s midfielder Aaron Ramsey is not that far of by saying yesterday that his side is in control of group F:
“It was important to get the win over there [in Dortmund], having lost the previous game at home. There was a bit of pressure on us to go there and get a result which we did ever so well. It was vital for us, and we're now in control again.”
The Gunners may have real hope that Dortmund could be eliminated by Napoli tonight, and if they do their own job against Marseille, qualification will therefore be assured.
image: © peterfuchs