Travelling to Stamford Bridge with a slender 1-0 lead to protect, Borussia Dortmund aim to finish the job in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League affair with Chelsea on tonight.
Karim Adeyemi’s sensational solo winner settled a tight contest at the Westfalenstadion three weeks ago, as Graham Potter goes in search of a priceless win that may just buy him some more time in the dugout.
Whether Adeyemi’s stunning winner or his backflip celebration was more impressive is another debate entirely, but the German starlet’s crucial contribution in the first leg has Dortmund just 90 minutes away from putting another dampener on Chelsea’s miserable 2023.
A combination of Gregor Kobel, the woodwork and an astounding Emre Can clearance off the line kept Chelsea at bay, and in a game where profligacy seemed set to win out, Adeyemi took the ball down brilliantly inside his own half, skipped past Enzo Fernandez and Kepa Arrizabalaga and slotted home.
While there were reasons for an under-fire Potter to leave Germany with cautious optimism, subsequent defeats to Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur only led for the sacking calls to grow louder and louder, and not all Chelsea fans were pleased to see Wesley Fofana sink Leeds United at the weekend to end a six-game winless run for their side.
With the Blues’ clashes against Leeds and Dortmund said to be pivotal to Potter’s short-term future, the Englishman can certainly get back into the good books of the powers-that-be by turning their last-16 tie around, but exits at this stage are not a novelty to the West London giant.
Indeed, Chelsea suffered four successive Champions League last-16 exits between 2014-15 and 2019-20 before going all the way in the 2020-21 campaign, but from their last seven Champions League knockout ties in which they have lost the first leg away from home, they have advanced from four of them.
Fofana’s header versus Leeds also ended a three-game run without making the net ripple for Chelsea, who have four clean sheets from their last six contests at Stamford Bridge, but their paltry goal tally of just four strikes from their last 10 games is frankly egregious.
Having experienced the true meaning of close but no cigar season after season, Dortmund enter the spring months with domestic and European titles well within reach thanks to an astonishing run of form since the turn of the year.
The team led by EdinTerzic have played 10 competitive games across the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League since the World Cup, and they have remarkably won all 10 of them, most recently sinking Leipzig 2-1 in Friday’s Bundesliga battle courtesy of Emre Can and Marco Reus’s efforts.
Still only trailing first-placed, Bayern Munich, on goal difference in the Bundesliga standings, BVB are on the warpath, and just a second Champions League quarter-final berth since the 2016-17 season is firmly within their grasp.
Dortmund’s stunning green streak in 2023 also includes five successive away victories in domestic action – during which time they have shipped just two goals, while scoring nine themselves – but not since November 2020 have they managed to keep a Champions League clean sheet on the road.
The English capital is not kind to BVB either, as they have lost their last five European battles in London since beating Arsenal 2-1 in 2013, but the last time that they won both legs of a Champions League knockout tie in 1996-97, Dortmund ended up lifting the trophy aloft. —SportsMole
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