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By Kadira Malkoc and Luke Williams
AJ Auxerre face German champions BV Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, knowing that their European hopes are hanging by a thread.
Dortmund already through
Dortmund are already assured of a place in the second group stage and know that another three points will also ensure they top Group A ahead of Arsenal FC. In contrast, the best Auxerre can hope for is a place in the UEFA Cup, and to achieve this they must beat Dortmund and hope that PSV Eindhoven lose to Arsenal.
Since beating Arsenal on Matchday Four, Auxerre have won just once and lost to RC Lens and AC Ajaccio in domestic competition and PSV on Matchday Five. To add to Auxerre's woes, the French Football Federation (FFF) have ordered the club to replay a Ligue 1 encounter against CS Sedan-Ardennes following a dispute over a refereeing error.
Midfield player Yann Lachuer has pinpointed the cause of Auxerre's faltering form. "After [we beat] Arsenal we were taken more seriously," he said. "Teams were waiting for us. But perhaps we also lacked humility. Mentally we were not ready." That famous victory at Highbury also obscured the fact that Auxerre have now won just once in this competition in their last seven games.
Mexes and Kapo missing
Against Dortmund, Auxerre will be without Philippe Mexes and Olivier Kapo after their red cards against PSV, although Djibril Cissé could make a return. However coach Guy Roux is still confident that his side can win against a side who have twice knocked them out of Europe in the past. "
Our morale is not the highest, but we will do everything in our power to win," said the 64-year-old.
Dortmund may have already booked their place in the next round, but they will travel to France with the memory of the weekend's 2-1 defeat against FC Bayern München fresh in their minds - a result that left them five points off the pace in the 1. Bundesliga.
'Losing makes me angry'
"Losing makes me angry and mad," said Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer. "
We have a few things to make amends for in Auxerre. We badly need a victory. There will not be any rotation. Changing the team would not help us and I'm not going to do that."
Weidenfeller could get call
One decision Sammer has not yet made concerns who will be in goal for his side. With Jens Lehmann picking up a domestic suspension after being sent off against Bayern, Roman Weidenfeller might well be given a chance to impress between the posts. The 22-year-old former German Under-21 international certainly does not lack confidence, having announced in the past that he is at the club "to make Jens Lehmann's life difficult".
Poor away record
Dortmund's away record in the Champions League does not inspire confidence, with just one win in ten games. But those who enjoy looking for portents might also care to note that the last time Dortmund eliminated Auxerre from Europe, in 1996/97, they went on to win the Champions League.
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