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How Borussia Dortmund Will Line Up Against Zenit St. Petersburg

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How Borussia Dortmund Will Line Up Against Zenit St. Petersburg
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Borussia Dortmund visit Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday as they resume their Champions League campaign with the first leg of the round of 16. BVB qualified for the knockout rounds as winners of Group F, edging Arsenal and Napoli based on goal difference in head-to-head clashes.

The Germans will take on a Zenit side that finished runners-up in Group G; the Russian side qualified despite earning just one victory in the first six matches of their Champions League campaign.

But although Zenit struggled at times, the match will be no walk in the park for BVB, which will have to visit a frigid St. Petersburg with a squad decimated by injuries. Here's a look at the starting line-up Jurgen Klopp may deploy:

 

Goalkeeper: Roman Weidenfeller

Despite conceding a freak goal from near the halfway line on Saturday, Roman Weidenfeller will start in goal for Dortmund. The vice-captain's leadership is hugely important for BVB, which will need the poise of a veteran as they enter hostile grounds in Russia.

 

Right-Back: Kevin Grosskreutz

Lukasz Piszczek has often impressed since returning from groin and hip surgeries that saw him miss almost the entire first half of the season, but the right-back played poorly in Hamburg and may not be used for a second time in three days in such a high-profile match. Kevin Grosskreutz deputized for the Poland international during the group stage and delivered some assured performances; he just might get the nod once more.

 

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Centre-Back: Manuel Friedrich

Dortmund fans have waited weeks for Mats Hummels to return to action, but given that he was unable to play on Saturday, it seems the 25-year-old will not be selected as first choice in St. Petersburg. Manuel Friedrich has played in his stead and often impressed, although more will be needed from the veteran than he showed in Hamburg on Saturday.

 

Centre-Back: Sokratis Papastathopoulos

If Hummels does indeed start, it will be in place of Friedrich. For now, Sokratis Papastathopoulos' starting role is safe. If he continues to play as he has, that will be the case until Neven Subotic returns from his ACL tear next season. The Greece international has been BVB's most consistent defender this season with his €9.5 million transfer fee perhaps already proving to have returned its investment in full.

 

Left-Back: Marcel Schmelzer

With back-up Erik Durm not even on the bench in Saturday's match with Hamburg, there is no chance that Marcel Schmelzer's starting role at left-back is in danger at the moment. Assuming he has avoided contracting Robert Lewandowski's cold, the 26-year-old will undoubtedly get the nod in Klopp's first XI to face Zenit.

 

Michael Probst/Associated Press

Defensive Midfield: Sebastian Kehl

Following his half-time substitution over the weekend, Sven Bender was ruled out of action, via the official BVB website (in German), for a minimum of six weeks due to inflammation of hip cartilage. That means Sebastian Kehl will start for the foreseeable future. The captain turned 34 earlier this month but has often deputized for the injury-riddled Bender this season.

 

Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin

Dortmund's other first-choice holding midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan, continues to be sidelined with back problems and Nuri Sahin will start in his stead in St. Petersburg. The Real Madrid loanee has been a regular starter at his hometown club all season and by now is as much a beloved, fan favorite as any of his teammates.

 

Right Wing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

All eyes will be on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Tuesday as Dortmund look for a critical away goal. The Gabon international has scored five of his 16 goals this season in the still-young 2014 calendar year, his form carrying BVB to victories against Frankfurt (twice) and Braunschweig. But now, the time has come for him to deliver on the international stage, especially considering the likelihood that Lewandowski will not play.

 

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Centre-Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Although Milos Jojic scored within seconds of making his Bundesliga debut, the young Serbia international still is not yet a match for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The newcomer has only a few minutes of experience playing for BVB and none in the Champions League, whereas Mkhitaryan is a known quality following several seasons playing for Shakhtar Donetsk. He delivered a virtuoso performance against Napoli in the group stage, and now, Mkhitaryan will be expected to step up once more as BVB visit St. Petersburg.

 

Left Wing: Marco Reus

Marco Reus came on at half-time of BVB's 3-0 loss to Hamburg over the weekend, making his first appearance since returning from a muscle tear. The 24-year-old was off form and struggled to make any impression in Hamburg. However, he remains an indisputable star for Dortmund, which will need him to be at his best.

 

Centre-Forward: Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski was anonymous before his early substitution in Saturday's match, and it was later revealed, via Sky Sport News reporter Stephan Schauble (in German), that the player was suffering from influenza. The Poland international nonetheless made the trip to St. Petersburg, and according to the official BVB website (in German), he is expected to start.

 

Follow Clark Whitney on Twitter.

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