Auxerre v Arsenal
They travel to Auxerre to face a side brimming with confidence after last weekend’s 4-1 victory over Nantes, a win described by their veteran coach Guy Roux as one their best-ever performances. They will need to reproduce that form tonight when they face an Arsenal side looking nigh on unbeatable at the moment. Saturday’s stunning 4-0 win over Leeds took their unbeaten Premier League run to 29 matches, and it was also the 47th successive game in which they have scored.
What is amazing about Arsenal’s recent run is that it has been achieved without last year’s Footballer of the Year Robert Pires, who has beensidelined since February. Also missing tonight will be long-term absentee Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, as well as Martin Keown and Dennis Bergkamp.
French central defender Pascal Cygan replaced Keown during last week’s win over PSV and already looks an assured performer alongside the improving Sol Campbell. Freddie Ljungberg who recently returned from injury but looks as if he has never been away, will return to the starting line-up having been rested at the weekend and will replace Kolo Toure. While, in form Nwankwo Kanu will remain upfront alongside Thierry Henry in the absence of Bergkamp.
Auxerre meanwhile, have to cope with the loss their most dangerous player, Djibril Cisse. The French international striker misses out with a foot injury as does Lionel Mathis. French international playmaker Olivier Kapo and defender Jean-Alain Boumsong are also doubtful leaving coach Guy Roux with a real selection headache.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger ghas spoken optimistically about his team winning the Champpions League and tonight’s test will offer further evidence to support or refute the credibility of Arsenal’s challenge. Looking at the respective line-ups, it would be a major surprise if Arsenal do not offer further affirmation of their Champions League credentials.
Auxerre: Cool, Jaures, Boumsong, Radet, Mexes, Tainio, Fadiga, Faye, Lachuer, Gonzalez, Mwaruwari
Arsenal: Seaman; Lauren, Cygan, Campbell, Cole; Wiltord, Gilberto, Vieira, Ljungberg; Henry, Kanu.
PSV v Borussia Dortmund
For Dortmund this match represents an opportunity to cement their runners-up position behind Arsenal. Last week’s win over Auxerre provided a welcome confidence booster to Mattias Sammer’s side after they, like their opponents tonight, were outclassed by the Premier League leaders.
The fit-again Marcio Amoroso is expected to start from the bench again despite having comeon as a substitute to score what proved to be the winning goal against Auxerre last Tuesday. Sammer does not need to rush back his leading striker due to the good form of Jan Koller and Ewerthon. Team captain Stefan Reuter will undergo a late fitness test but must be rated doubtful, while Nigerian-born attacker Otto Addo is definitely ruled out with a long-term injury.
For PSV, Brazilian striker Leandro is expected to partner Mateja Kezman ahead of Arnold Bruggink, while Ernest Faber will continue to deputize for the injured Hofland in the centre of defence. Hiddink is expected to stick with Remco van der Schaaf after he replaced Swiss international Johann Vogel during the 4-0 win over De Graafschap at the weekend.
Dortmund coach Mattias Sammer has spoken boldly of going for the win but in truth he would be happy with a draw, safe in the knowledge that a win in the return match will almost certainly guarantee the Bundesliga champions a plec in the next phase.
PSV: Waterreus; Bogelund, Ooijer, Faber, Bouma; Rommedahl, , Van der Schaaf, Robben; Leandro, Kezman
Dortmund: Lehmann; Evanilson, Metzelder, Worns, Dede; Heinrich, Frings, Kehl; Rosicky; Koller, Ewerthon