Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live coverage of the Champions League
group-stage meeting between Anderlecht
and Borussia Dortmund
. This evening's visitors currently lead the way in the early Group D standings following their opening-game victory Arsenal, although wins have been harder to come by domestically of late.
Anderlecht have yet to taste defeat this season in any competition, meanwhile, and they will be looking to build on the point gained away at Galatasaray last time out in Europe. Kick off at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium is less than an hour away, so let's take a look at how the two sides line up...
STARTING XI: Piszczek, Subotic, Sokratis, Schmelzer, Bender, Kehl, Aubameyang, Kagawa, Groskreutz, Immobile
SUBSTITUTES: Langerak, Hummels, Ginter, Jojic, Ramos, Amini, Durm
Dortmund have been hit by injuries once more, with Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nuri Sahin all still unavailable. Mats Hummels also misses out on the starting lineup, having to make due with a place among the substitutes. There is still a nice balance to this side, though, with Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl tasked with sitting in from of the back line, while Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
and Ciro Immobile
provide the attacking threat.
STARTING XI: Proto, Najar, Mbemba, Nuytinck, Deschacht, Conte, Defour, Tielemans, Praet, Suarez, Mitrovic
SUBSTITUTES: Roef, Colin, Cyriac, Acheampong, Kljestan, Heylen, Kabasele
Goalkeeper Silvio Proto returns for the hosts for tonight's game following suspension to replace Davy Roef. There is also a start for Youri Tielemans, who was the youngest player across every squad on the first Champions League matchday at the age of just 17. Anderlecht's top scorer domestically, Aleksandar Mitrovic, leads the line as the Belgian outfit go in search of their first Group D victory.
The backdrop for this evening's contest...
Well heading into the second round of group-stage fixtures, Dortmund currently top Group D courtesy of their comprehensive 2-0 victory over Arsenal a fortnight ago. Since that win Klopp's charges have lost two and drawn one of their three games, though, dropping down to 12th in the Bundesliga table as a result.
It is a far cry from last season when the Ruhr outfit finished in second place, and the 2-1 loss to arch-rivals Schalke would have seriously hurt BVB supporters. They have a chance to redeem themselves tonight, however, with three points in Brussels likely to put them well and truly in command of the group.
Dortmund were badly hit by injuries throughout the team last season, meaning they were unable to build on their Champions League final appearance from the season before, although the issues look to have carried on to this season with three key players all on the treatment table at the moment.
The German side just love playing in Europe, as highlighted against Arsenal a couple of weeks back, and they come into this game one the back of just one defeat in their last six away group-stage matches.
Yet something will have to give tonight in Brussels, because Anderlecht have won all five of their home games in all competitions so far this season. That said, Europe is a different matter completely, and Besnik Hasi
's charges hardly boast the best record in this competition.
DID YOU KNOW? In fact, the purple and whites have failed to pick up a victory in their last nine games in Europe. Worse than that, Anderlecht have actually finished bottom of the group in all seven group-stage campaigns since they reached the last 16 (second group stage) in 2000/01
But it will by no means be a straightforward 90 minutes for Dortmund at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, because the Belgian champions have highlighted their quality on the domestic stage numerous times. Hasi's men are currently top the Belgian Pro League with 21 points from their first nine games, going unbeaten in all competitions so far this season.
Can Anderlecht spring a surprise against Dortmund this evening?
In a group alongside Dortmund and Arsenal, finishing in third place above Galatsaray would be real progression for this evening's hosts, you have to say. In this their 11th season in the Champions League, they have yet to create any real waves, although that could all change this time around, of course, starting with a positive result against the 2013 finalists.
Die Borussen will be keen to get through tonight with nothing less than three points, however, and you have to say, despite the various injury setbacks, the visitors still boast one of the finest teams on the continent. Mkhitaryan and Reus are the club's two-highest scorers in terms of Champions League goals, yet Aubameyang and Immobile will have to compensate for the duo's absence this evening.
HEAD-TO-HEAD! Well these sides haven't met in Europe since back in the 1990-91 season, when Anderlecht came out on top over two legs on goal difference courtesy of a 1-0 home win and 2-1 reverse at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund are taking on Belgian opposition for the eighth time this evening, meanwhile, coming out on top in four of those games, with the other four being lost.
PREDICTION! There is no denying that Anderlecht boast some fine talent right across the pitch, and while they will cause big-name sides real problems on their day, I can't see anything other than a Dortmund victory tonight. They may not be enjoying the finest league form at the moment, but the visitors will put that behind them tonight with a 3-1 win.
Incidentally, the match official this evening is Paolo Tagliavento of Italy, who is officiating 59th match on the European stage. The official was in the middle for Dortmund's 1-0 victory over Ajax a couple of years back, incidentally, while no German team has lost in a game he has taken charge of.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to have attended a Dortmund game before will know exactly how much noise Die Borussen supporters can make...
Home supporters are making a fair bit of noise at the moment as well, so we should be in for a cracking atmosphere this evening. It will be interested to see what sort of start Dortmund get off too following their sticky spell domestically, while it has been the opposite case for unbeaten Anderlecht of course.
The players are waiting in the tunnel as a huge banner is put on display by home supporters reading "together we are invincible". They're not far wrong in fact if their home record this season is anything to go by!
So here we go then, the two teams are now onto the field with kickoff just a couple of minutes away. Can Dortmund take control of the group? Will Anderlecht pull off a surprise victory of their own to leave Group D wide open? Arsenal fans will of course be keeping a close eye on proceedings in what should be another hugely entertaining night in European football's showpiece event.
KICKOFF! Dortmund get us underway, immediately looking to get forward down the right-hand side. Aubameyang almost managed to pick out a teammate with his pull-back, but the danger was cleared.
Klopp has made his intentions known early on; bright start from the visitors in Brussels. Their high-pressing has become famous in recent times, and that is already on show in these opening stages.
GOAL! ANDERLECHT 0-1 BORUSSIA DORTMUND (IMMOBILE)
What a start for the visiting side! It's two in two in the yellow and black strip now in Europe for Immobile, who tucked away his chance brilliantly. Kagawa, making his first European start for Dortmund since returning to the club, chipped a fine pass into his teammate's path, and summer-signing Immobile did the rest, beating the outrushing Proto.
Anderlecht's players wanted offside, but the officials got that one right. I said in the build-up that Die Borussen would be eager to make a quick start, and that is exactly what they have done.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Anderlecht clearly a little shocked by the start that their opponents have made, but they almost responded with a goal of their own. The ball was put into the back of the net, but in fairness the officials had flagged for offside beforehand. Correct decision.
CHANCE! What an unbelievable miss from Aubameyang, who has failed to tap into an empty net from five yards out. I may be a little harsh on the forward, because the keeper seemingly had half the net covered, but the Gabon international really should have done better than hit the side-netting from that range after the ball was squared to him.
The visitors haven't looked back since...
Anderlecht enjoying more of the ball in the last few minutes, although they have been unable to create any openings. Dortmund just waiting to pounce at the moment.
SAVE! Well for all of Dortmund's early dominance, it really should be all-square in Brussels. Dennis Praet was played through on goal, but he failed to get the better of Roman Weidenfeller who produced a strong stop to deny the midfielder.
SAVE! This game has certainly not lacked excitement in the opening 17 minutes or so, with Aubameyang once more being gifted a great chance to double his side's lead. Some slick play down the right saw the ball come across to the striker inside the box, but his shot was kept out by Proto.
YELLOW CARD! Mattias Suarez is the first name to enter the referee's book, rather harshly it should be said. It looked to be a 50-50 challenge for the ball, yet the Anderlecht man is the one who is punished.
SHOT! I was just about to mention the fact that a few minutes have passed with no talking points as such, that was until the lively Aubameyang unleashed a strike from distance. The effort was a little dragged, though, and he failed to test the opposition keeper. He should not have been given that much time and space to get a shot away.
UPDATE: Danny Welbeck has given Arsenal the lead against Galatasaray in the group's other game this evening. A big night for the Gunners, who lost their opener to Dortmund.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Kevin Grosskreutz found the net from the tightest of angles, but the assistant's flag was up on the far side. That was very tight, but looked to be just about the right call. A fine finish from the Dortmund man nonetheless, with everyone inside the stadium thinking he had doubled Die Borussen's advantage for a few moments.
SAVE! The Black and Yellows are asking all the questions right now and look very dangerous every time they come forward. After seeing a strike fly over the bar, Dortmund pushed forward once more, and only the leg of Proto could keep out Marcel Schmelzer's shot which was heading home.
They will be pleased with what they have seen thus far...
Andy Najar produces a fine tackle to deny Aubameyang who looked to be in yet again. As good as Klopp's charges have looked in attack, Anderlecht have looked poor for the large part at the back. This simply cannot continue.
UPDATE: Arsenal now two goals to the good against Galatasaray thanks to Welbeck's second of the night.
The Purple and Whites enjoying a little more of the ball now, thanks in now small part to the German side giving the ball away sloppily in midfield. They need to make the most of these sorts of spells.
Schmelzer enjoying a lot of space down the left so far. He looks composed in possession and could well have got his name on the scoresheet with that chance a little while ago. The visitors just probing away at the moment, unable to create a shooting opportunity.
Immobile also looking lively as he plugs away towards the right. Dortmund just toying with Anderlecht as we enter the final five minutes of the first half, although they may rue their missed chances.
Weidenfeller with a great piece of goalkeeping, reading the danger well to charge off his line and clear the ball away as the Belgian champions looked to break. He's had one save to make so far, but little else to do otherwise.
UPDATE: Arsenal get a third against Galatasaray before the interval through Alexis Sanchez to surely bag their first point of this year's Champions League campaign.
Not such a good piece of goalkeeping from Weidenfeller this time around. Anderlecht swung a free kick into the area, with the goalkeeper opting to thump the ball away with nobody around him. As it is it matters little, but he looked rather panicky in that instance.
Aubameyang springs a counter after Anderlecht sloppily give the ball away in midfield, but he is unable to pick out a teammate with his cross from the right. Immobile managed to latch onto it, yet after some tricky play, his cross was also over hit.
HALF TIME: ANDERLECHT 0-1 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Not a great deal by the way of chances in the last 15 minutes or so, but up until that point it had been a hugely entertaining contest. Dortmund took the lead with less than three minutes on the clock through Immobile, while Aubameyang somehow failed to add a second from a few yards out.
The visitors had by far the better chances, and should have more than one goal to their name at the interval, but Weidenfeller was also called into action on the 15-minute mark to keep out Praet's strike. All to play for in the second half then, although Besnik Hasi
's men will have to greatly improve if they are to get anything out of this one.
MATCH STATS! Anderlecht have had just the one shot so far, while Dortmund have tried their luck on seven occasions, hitting the target three times. In terms of possession, the visitors have enjoyed 60% of the ball in the first 45 minutes.
It is hard to see Jurgen Klopp
's side being so profligate after the restart, although Anderlecht will surely come out far stronger in the second half. It will be interesting to see if Hasi makes any changes at the break, but on the basis of the first 45, something different is certainly needed.
Here's a look at that pre-match Tifo that I mentioned...
SECOND HALF! No changes at the break, although a few players talking to the referee as the teams walked out of the tunnel. I have to say, I felt both disallowed goals were the correct decision, but they clearly feel otherwise.
A missile has been launched onto the field with a lot of smoke coming out of it. Looked to come from the bouncing away end, and the referee had to temporarily halt play to move it away from the field.
This smoke is making things difficult for me to pick out the players, I don't know how much better it is on the field. The referee clearly doesn't feel it is a problem, and play resumes.
Seventeen-year-old Tielemans has plenty of grass to run into, yet he opts not to play in one of his better-placed teammates before slipping and losing the ball. Showing his inexperience a little there, it must be said.
Aubameyang is played in behind, but the tight angle forces his to square the ball. Unfortunately for him, it is cut out by a defender in Purple and White.
SAVE! The Gabon international is in behind again, and this time he does manage to get a shot away inside the box which is kept out by Proto. Aubameyang's tireless running creates so many chances, but he just can't take them!
SAVE! Dortmund really upping the tempo now in search of a second. Anderlecht lose out in midfield and Immobile unleashes a shot which Proto again does well to get down and save.
UPDATE: Welbeck completes his hat-trick to seal the points for Arsenal in their meeting with Galatasaray. As things stand, the Gunners will take second place with Dortmund leading the way with maximum points.
Sebastian Kehl looks in some discomfort following a hefty challenge on him. He missed the weekend defeat to Schalke, so it may be wise to take him off here.
SHOT! Ibrahima Conte does well to get a cross into the box which sees the hosts win a corner, while moments later Chancel Mbemba tried to most audacious of shots from close to the corner flag. The effort had enough bend on it to give Weidenfeller a little scare, yet it ended narrowly wide of the target. This is more like it from Anderlecht.
Far more urgency from the Belgians now, and the possession is almost 50-50 as this stand. Could Die Borussen be forced to hold on for the final 25 minutes or so?
Aubameyang hugging the touchline to stretch the opposition, but there's not been much in the way of end product since the early stages of this half for Dortmund. A couple of long-range efforts, but by no means dominating in the same way as they did in the first half.
UPDATE: Wojciech Szczesny, a man known well to a couple of these Dortmund players is shown a straight-red card, with Burak Yilmaz converting from the spot. 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium now.
Immobile is given the opportunity to pick out a teammate at the back post, but he rather scuffs his cross allowing Anderlecht to clear. Neven Subotic tried his luck from range moments before.
DORTMUND SUB! Adrian Ramos
is introduced in place of Grosskreutz as Klopp makes his first change of the night.
GOAL! ANDERLECHT 0-2 BORUSSIA DORTMUND (RAMOS)
He's only been on the field for a couple of minutes but Ramos doubles Dortmund's advantage and surely seals the points for his side. It was all about the ball into the box from full-back Lukasz Piszczek, though, who delivered an inch-perfect cross which left the substitute with the task of firing home from a few yards out.
It was by no means a difficult one for Ramos to convert, but give him credit because he has had one chance and buried it. Aubameyang continues his tireless running, meanwhile.
DORTMUND SUB! Immobile's night comes to an end with Erik Durm replacing him at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
ANDERLECHT SUB! The hosts staring their first defeat of the season right in the face. Frank Acheampong will be hoping to change that as he comes on in place of Ibrahima Conte. Twenty-seven minutes remaining.
OFF THE POST! Mitrovic almost sets up a grandstand finish, but he can only strike the post after getting a sight of goal following a brilliant first touch off his chest. After getting into a one-on-one position, albeit from a fairly tight angle, the striker perhaps should have done better there.
GOAL! ANDERLECHT 0-3 BORUSSIA DORTMUND (RAMOS)
Well that's how to make an impression! Adrian Ramos bags his second goal just 15 minutes after being introduced. Aubameyang created it, working hard out wide before picking out his teammate, and a fine first touch allowed Ramos to fire beyond Proto into the back of the net. The Colombian was off balance, but he had just one thing on his mind, and he now has his second goal.
SAVE! Kagawa has done well this evening, and he came close to getting a goal of his ownafter finding himself in plenty of space, but his effort was kept out by Proto.
SUBSTITUTIONS! Mats Hummsels is brought on for the final 13 minutes or so to regain so much needed fitness. Sven Bender is the man to make way for him, as Klopp shores up his back like. Aleksandar Mitrovic leaves the pitch to be replaced by Nathan Kabasele for Anderlecht, meanwhile.
Tielemans takes on a free kick in a very promising position, which he blasts well over the bar. It's just a case of Dortmund going through the motions now with this one essentially over. Goal difference may play a big difference in terms of who finishes top, don't forget.
Die Borussen staying strong at the back, clearing their lines whenever the ball enters the box. As things stand it is played two, won two, scored five, conceded none. Crisis? What crisis.
Ramos very nearly rounded off his hat-trick as we enter the additional time. Aubameyang lofted a cross into the box which was just a few inches too high for Ramos to meet in his central position.
The hosts so close to bagging a consolation goal at the death, but it wasn't to be. That coming just seconds after Ramos saw a chance of his own saved by Proto.
FULL TIME: Anderlecht 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
By no means a straightforward victory for Dortmund, who made life difficult for themselves by failing to put away their chances in the first half. Though in fairness Anderlecht rarely threatened Dortmund's grip on the game, with the Ruhr outfit prevailing with ease in the end.
It means that Dortmund top Group D with two wins for two, with Arsenal two points below them in second place. Anderlecht have one point to their name, meanwhile, leaving them with a lot of work to do.
Well that's all from me for this evening, but stick around on Sports Mole as we bring you all the reaction from Brussels, along with a full match analysis and player ratings.