Champions League 2014-15: Group D preview

Sports Mole takes a closer look at the four teams that make up Group D of this season's Champions League.

ARSENAL

Previous European Cup/CL best: Finalists: 2006

Manager - Arsene Wenger: The Frenchman has been in charge of the Gunners since 1996, making him the club's longest-serving boss and most successful in terms of titles won. Wenger has led the London outfit to three league titles and five FA Cups, but the Champions League has thus far eluded him. Since the Gunners made the final in 2006, they have reached the round of 16 on five occasions, in addition to two quarter-finals appearances and a semi-final berth.

Key Player - Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey in action for Arsenal during the Community Shield on August 10, 2014© Getty Images

It wasn't too long ago that the Welshman was the fall guy for Arsenal's failings in search of a major trophy. Now, he is arguably their most crucial player. The 23-year-old has scored 19 times in his last 38 games for the club, including three in four matches this season. Meanwhile, five of Ramsey's 16 goals last season came in the Champions League. He has quickly emerged into the complete midfielder.

Sports Mole says: It is by no means an easy group for the Gunners, who have once again been drawn alongside German outfit Borussia Dortmund - who they beat in Germany last season. Incredibly, they have not failed to make it out of the group stages of the competition since the 1999-2000 campaign and will be confident of advancing once more. They have fallen at the last-16 stage in each of the last four seasons, however, and will be hopeful of topping the group and therefore gaining, in theory, a more favourable draw.

Did you know?: Arsenal have made at least the group stages of the Champions League in each of the last 17 seasons.


BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Previous European Cup/CL best: Winners: 1997

Manager - Jurgen Klopp: One of the biggest personalities in the game, Klopp has been in charge of Dortmund since 2008 having previously spent seven years as manager of Mainz. The 47-year-old has won two Bundesliga titles during his tenure, in addition to the German Cup in the 2011-12 campaign. Klopp also somewhat surprisingly led Dortmund to the final of the Champions League in the 2012-13 season, but lost out to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich in the final at Wembley.

Key Player - Marco Reus

Dortmund's midfielder Marco Reus celebrates scoring the 0-1 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Augsburg vs Borussia Dortmund in Augsburg, southern Germany, on August 29, 2014© Getty Images

Now vice-captain, Reus has taken on more responsibility for Dortmund this season. The 25-year-old has been with the German club since 2012, scoring 43 times in 92 appearances, including nine in 21 matches in the Champions League. An injury kept him out of Germany's World Cup triumph this summer, while he is also currently on the sidelines, but should soon return. How far Dortmund progress this summer will be down to Reus's performances.

Sports Mole says: Dortmund last won the competition in 1997, beating Italian giants Juventus in the final. As mentioned, they made the final in 2013, but lost out to Bayern Munich. They have had to contend with the loss of key players over the last couple of transfer windows, but Klopp still has a squad capable of going deep into this competition. They would not have been overly pleased with being drawn into this particular group, but will be confident of advancing alongside Arsenal.

Did you know?: Dortmund's European Cup Winners' Cup triumph over Liverpool in 1966 made them the first German club to win a European title.


GALATASARAY

Previous European Cup/CL best: Semi-finals: 1989

Manager - Cesare Prandelli: Having failed to lead Italy out of the group stages at the 2014 World Cup, Prandelli took charge of Galatasaray at the start of July, replacing countryman Roberto Mancini in the process. As a player, Prandelli won the European Cup with Juventus in 1985, but he has surprisingly never managed a team in the Champions League. The 57-year-old is a manager full of experience, however, and will be confident of causing a stir in Group D.

Key Player - Wesley Sneijder

Galatasaray's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder celebrates scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen on October 23, 2013© Getty Images

The 30-year-old might not be the player he once was, but he still has a lot to offer in the Champions League. The Dutchman won the competition with Inter Milan in 2010 and has also represented Ajax and Real Madrid in European competition. Sneijder played a key role as Netherlands finished third at this summer's World Cup and certainly still has that big-game mentality.

Sports Mole says: One thing is for certain, Galatasaray cannot be underestimated at this level of football. The Turkish outfit have never won the European Cup, but made the semi-finals in the 1988-89 campaign and have also made the quarter-finals on five occasions – the last of which was in the 2012-13 season. Last term, they made round of 16 before losing to Chelsea. They are certainly up against it in this particular group, but none of their opponents will relish travelling to Turkey.

Did you know?: Galatasaray's UEFA Cup victory in 2000 made them the first Turkish team to win a European trophy.


ANDERLECHT

Previous European Cup/CL best: Semi-finals: 1982, 1986

Manager - Besnik Hasi: The 42-year-old is another rookie in this season's Champions League having only taken charge of Anderlecht earlier this year. He had acted as assistant for six years at the Belgian club, but was given full responsibility before the start of the season. As a player, Hasi, who was a midfielder, represented Anderlecht 107 times in the league. He also gained 47 caps for Albania between 2000 and 2007.

Key Player - Dennis Praet

Dennis Praet of Anderlecht in action during the Jupiler League match between RSC Anderlecht and KAA Gent held at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium on August 11, 2013© Getty Images

The 20-year-old is seen as one of the rising stars of Belgian football. He is yet to make his full debut for the Belgium senior side, but has represented his country at every youth level from the Under-15's. Despite just being out of his teens, the attacker has already made 100 appearances for his club, scoring 12 times in the process. He also already has 12 Champions League appearances under his belt.

Sports Mole says: Anderlecht have never won the European Cup, but they did reach the semi-finals in both 1982 and 1986, while they have made the quarter-finals on five occasions. The Belgium club have also won five European trophies – two UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, one UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. Last season, Anderlecht failed to make it out of their group, which was also the case in the 2012/13 campaign. It will take a minor miracle for them to advance this time around.

Did you know?: Anderlecht are the most successful Belgian team in European competition with five trophies.


Group D fixtures

Tuesday, September 16
Galatasaray vs. Anderlecht
Dortmund vs. Arsenal

Wednesday, October 1
Arsenal vs. Galatasaray
Anderlecht vs. Dortmund

Wednesday, October 22
Anderlecht vs. Arsenal
Galatasaray vs. Dortmund

Tuesday, November 4
Arsenal vs. Anderlecht
Dortmund vs. Galatasaray

Wednesday, November 26
Anderlecht vs. Galatasaray
Arsenal vs. Dortmund

Tuesday, December 9
Galatasaray vs. Arsenal
Dortmund vs. Anderlecht

Prediction: 1. Arsenal 2. Borussia Dortmund 3. Galatasaray 4. Anderlecht


Dortmund's midfielder Marco Reus celebrates scoring the 0-1 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Augsburg vs Borussia Dortmund in Augsburg, southern Germany, on August 29, 2014
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