MK Dons v Doncaster preview
Mon, 04 Mar 2013 17:18:00
Borussia Dortmund are now fully focussed on progressing past Shakhtar Donetsk with the Champions League representing the Germans' only potential source of silverware this season.
Having seen their hopes of defending their DFB-Pokal trophy dashed by Bayern Munich, and with a practically impossible task of chasing down the same opponents to defend their Bundesliga title, failure to progress beyond the Ukrainians would end all realistic hopes of a trophy.
Germany's double winners prepare to face Shakhtar on Wednesday night having drawn 2-2 in Ukraine last month, and they are keen to complete the job in front of their own fans.
"We don't want to see the next round of Champions League games from our own sofas," Dortmund director of sport Michael Zorc told Kicker magazine.
"We have the keys (to the next round) in our own hands."
The score draw away from home tipped the scales only slightly in Dortmund's favour, and now is the time for them to prove Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson right when he mentioned them as one of the favourites for the title.
"The tie is poised well for us, and we are playing at home,'' full-back Marcel
Schmelzer told www.dfb.de.
"If we concentrate like we have been doing recently, then we will go through.
But if we give just a little, then it will be tough against Donetsk.''
Dortmund discovered that much in the first leg, when a late goal from Mats Hummels saved them from defeat and ensured they remain one of only three clubs still unbeaten in the current competition.
Yet Shakhtar's away form has been impressive with Juventus only managing a 1-1 draw against them in Turin, while Mircea Lucescu's side have only failed to score once in their last 11 away fixtures in the Champions League.
"They are particularly dangerous up front," Schmelzer said. "We are going to have to pay good attention to their quick Brazilian.
"They are also still very fresh. After facing us nearly three weeks ago, they have only had one game in the Ukrainian league after the winter break."
That 91-day winter break ended last weekend with Shakhtar carrying on from where they left off in 2012 with a 4-1 win over Volyn Lutsk, a result which gave them a 13-point advantage at the top of the Ukrainian league and enables them to concentrate all of their efforts on Wednesday night's game.
Dortmund would prefer to have their first-choice defence available, but Hummels is still a doubt after missing their last two games due to a bout of flu.
It means that in 2013/14, for the sixth time in eight seasons, there is to be no increase in Barclays Premier League and European competition knockout-phase tickets at the club.
Previous price freezes covered the period between 2006 to 2010. Next season's tickets will be the same as 2011/12 levels, covering season tickets, individual match tickets and hospitality lounges.
The Blues, European champions in 2012 but currently fighting for Champions League qualification for next season, say each of the three price categories will remain unaltered for Premier League games, while the policy of discounted tickets for all non-hospitality seats for FA Cup and League Cup matches will continue next term.
Chief executive Ron Gourlay said on the club's official website: "Economic conditions remain tough for many people and the club would like to thank our supporters for the consistently very good attendances we have had throughout this season.
"Financial Fair Play regulations are now having an impact on clubs across Europe, but it was our hope a year ago when we announced prices would not be raised that this decision could be extended.
"We are pleased this has proved possible for 2013/14."
The 25-year-old, who is currently on loan at Juventus from Arsenal, was stopped by police for driving against the traffic in Copenhagen on Saturday night.
A statement from the DBU on Monday confirmed Bendtner will be charged with a violation of the Road Traffic Act and, as a result, will not be considered for international duty for the foreseeable future.
"The DBU has invited Nicklas Bendtner to spend the next six months considering his future as an international," it read.
"The DBU respects any player's right to privacy but also has some rules and expectations regarding the public profile of each player."
Bendtner confirmed his arrest yesterday on his official Twitter account. He tweeted: "Dear friends i was booked for a mild case of drinkdriving last night it was a quite nite but i am very very sorry to all my friends and fans.
"It is not ok to drink and drive. I take full responsibility."
The striker, who has scored 22 goals in 55 matches for Denmark, has now been told by the DBU to use the next six months to think about his international future.
"The DBU has asked the player to carefully consider whether in time he will again be able to live up to the expectations both the Football Association and the public are entitled to have of him as a person and an international," said the statement.
"National team coach Morten Olsen is in agreement with his employers over this decision, which effectively means he will not select Nicklas Bendtner during this period.
"When the coach announces that he will again consider Nicklas Bendtner for the national team, the DBU will initiate talks with the player.
"Should such talks between the the DBU and Nicklas Bendtner lead to a comeback to the national team, the DBU will disclose the details of any conversation."
Bendtner's last international appearance was in a friendly against Turkey last November, and he will now miss a large chunk of Denmark's qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup.
Cakir has taken charge of two Manchester United games, and the Red Devils have won neither, losing in last season's Europa League to Athletic Bilbao after a Champions League draw with Benfica.
The 36-year-old has more recent knowledge of Real Madrid, even if he was criticised by Jose Mourinho for disallowing a goal during the Spanish giants' 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund in December.
Additionally, the Portugal FA expressed concerns about Cakir's appointment prior to their Euro 2012 semi-final with Spain, believing the close ties between Turkey's Senes Erzik and Spanish representative Angel Mar?a Villar Llona, deputy chairman and chairman respectively of UEFA's referee's committee, create an unholy alliance in such delicate matters.
Cakir himself has a fairly unblemished record, which Ferguson can only hope survives Tuesday evening's high-intensity contest.
"You hope in a game of this nature that you are going to get the best refereeing performance, on the same level as the players on the pitch," said Ferguson.
"Mistakes will be made by players and the referee but you hope it will be a top performance.
"You hope to get nothing less than the best, An occasion like this deserves that."
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson is waiting on Ryan Harley.
On-loan winger Harley missed Saturday's 1-1 draw against Preston with a neck injury and faces a late fitness test.
Fellow midfielder Dean Bowditch returned to the squad after recovering from a groin problem but had to be content with a place on the bench.
Goalkeeper David Martin remains sidelined with a back problem while veteran midfielder Alan Smith serves the final game of his four-match ban.
Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford remains at his parent club as he continues to receive treatment on a hamstring injury.
The Dons have drawn their last three matches in League One and are without a win since their famous FA Cup victory at QPR back in January.
Manager Brian Flynn could name an unchanged side.
The league leaders cruised past struggling Hartlepool 3-0 at the weekend and Flynn will be reluctant to make too many changes.
Midfielder Paul Keegan missed out with a dead leg and this one may also come too soon for him.
Billy Paynter is pushing for a starting role after the former Leeds striker scored the final goal from the bench against Pools.
Fellow forward Kyle Bennett is also hoping for inclusion having impressed as a substitute in recent weeks, while Emile Sinclair and Jordan Ball provide further options in attack.
Rovers are unbeaten in their last five league matches and could record a third straight win for the second time this year.