Klopp and Spalletti's sides face off in tonight's clash. (©GettyImages)
Klopp and Spalletti's sides face off in tonight's clash. (©GettyImages).

Zenit St Petersburg vs Borussia Dortmund: Preview

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It is no secret that Dortmund have been in poor form this season. They are a shadow of the side that reached the Champion League final last year.

That night, Bayern were only slightly better than them. This season however, Der BVB find themselves 20 points off their rivals.

With another debilitating loss to Hamburg on the weekend, Dortmund will be looking to continue their good European form - where they topped their group ahead of Arsenal - against Zenit.

"We watched all the Zenit games we could see including training games in Israel, and all the group games," said Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp.

"We anticipate a very strong footballing team. Russian football has evolved considerably in recent years. This makes it very exciting for us."

In contrast to Dortmund, Zenit have been in top form, sitting top of the Russian Premier League. The Russians qualified from their group ahead of the likes of Porto and and Austria Wienna by a point in what was a close battle for second.

Despite their poor league form, Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti believes his German opponents will still pose a threat to his side: "Dortmund are a very strong team who last year played in the Champions League final – that says a lot. In the Bundesliga there is one team out in front: Bayern München. Dortmund are fighting for second place in one of the strongest European leagues."

However the Russians may be a little rusty, having not played a competitive fixture since December due to Russia's longer winter break. They also have very little experience in the knock-out stages of the competition, having only advanced once before.

But Spalletti feels this is their chance to make history: "The Champions League commands a lot of effort and attention and can affect the preceding game or the one that follows. We are working to keep pace and, in time, grow and improve. Behind us we have a big city and a huge number of fans who care about the club.

"I've told my players we have a rare opportunity to not just write a chapter in our history, but to put the title on the cover story of Zenit."

The Russians will also have to make do with Danny and Cristian Ansaldi who picked up injuries in their friendly match against BATE Borisov. 

Dortmund have a wealth of talent sidelined through injury, most notably Ilkay Gundogan, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Sven Bender and Neven Subotic. Thankfully for Jurgen Klopp, he can welcome back Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels for the tie.

No doubt Dortmund will need their key players on song in Russia if they are to walk away from St. Petersburg with a win.

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