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Group G

Hamburg return to Champions League action after a six-year absence, hosting last season’s losing finalists Arsenal in Group G.

Hamburg coach Thomas Doll is upbeat about his team’s chances.

“My side have a great mentality and they know they have a great opportunity to beat a team of Arsenal’s quality,” said the former German international midfielder. “We will pull together and produce some fireworks on home soil.”

“We have worked so hard for this moment,” said defender Bastian Reinhardt. “Now we must be ready to take credit for our achievements by performing well on the highest stage”

Rafael van der Vaart, Hamburg’s Dutch international playmaker, heads an injury list that also includes new signing Juan Pablo Sorín and full-back Thimothée Atouba.

However, to offset those losses, Doll welcomes back centre-back Vincent Kompany, who has overcome a groin problem and midfielder David Jarolím.

Arsenal will be without talismanic captain Thierry Henry after the French striker picked up a foot injury in training. Either Robin van Persie or Emmanuel Adebayor could fill the gap up front while new signing William Gallas will deputise at left-back.

“We really need his experience in central defence but do not have a choice because Gael Clichy will be out for another six weeks,” said coach Arsène Wenger.

Despite a stuttering start to their domestic campaign, Wenger’s confidence remains high.

“Our preparation for the season was not easy,” he said.

“We had 14 World Cup players. But all we have to do is focus on ourselves because we want to win the Premiership and the Champions League. Tomorrow night will be a good test for us.”

Probable teams
Sascha Kirschstein; Guy Demel, Vincent Kompany, Bastian Reinhardt, Joris Mathijsen; Nigel de Jong, David Jarolím, Raphael Wicky, Piotr Trochowski; Daniel Ljuboja, Boubacar Sanogo.

Jens Lehmann; Emmanuel Eboué, Kolo Touré, Johan Djourou, William Gallas; Aleksandr Hleb, Cesc Fabregas, Gilberto Silva, Fredrik Ljungberg; Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor.

For the latest odds on this seasons Champions League click here.