Borussia in Baku - Not singing Sloop John B
Only Europa League qualification can take you that far. This Thursday the oil town of Baku awaits Borussia Dortmund. A town full of ventures and richness you’d never expect when hearing the name Azerbaijan. Baku, a town hosting the great lost city of Agdam, which has been left for good after the Armenian war in 1993 and today is part of a complicated Caucasian conflict, we Western Europeans might not have heard about.
Not singing Sloop John B
After last Thursday’s 4-0 win over Qarabag Agdam Borussia are clear favourites to qualify for the group stages. Only a miracle can save the Azerbaijan side and would leave those 250 fans making the 4.600 km journey to the east singing that old “Sloop John B.” traditional. “Let me go home, why don’t you let me go home, this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on”. But looking back a week there is not a lot to fear for fans and team. Four goals in the first half, with the great help of Farhard Valiyev, the 29 time Azerbaijan national keeper who at times looked like he had placed a few bets on him conceding four goals in that first half. But we shall not forget about their Georgian striker George Adamia, who caused the Borussia defense quite a few troubles early on in the game.
Borussia had to digest Sunday’s 0-2 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen and will for sure make a few changes in the line-up. Barrios is doubtful missing the training session on Tuesday and could be replaced by Lewandowski upfront. Both full backs Subotic and Hummels have already been booked, it would make perfect sense to replace one of them with the towering Santana. Also out of form skipper Sebastian Kehl might sit out this match and be replaced with Sven Bender. Also in the squad is Markus Feulner. The neglected midfielder is looking for one of his few chances to prove he is a good backup. He might replace Großkreutz on the right, who’d then be drawn to the left again and give young Götze a rest. A lot of speculation before this match. One thing however is for certain: Tamás Hajnal will stay in Dortmund to sort out the offers he got in this week. The Hungarian international is set to leave Dortmund after not being too happy about his situation at the 90s giants. A Hannover move, as speculated earlier on this week, seems doubtful, his salary might just be too high. But a few kilometers west of Dortmund there is a team that is still looking for an experienced midfielder, you just never know.
The journey of a lifetime
For the 250 fans travelling this of course is the journey of a lifetime. “I have seen loads of places when travelling with Borussia, but this is the furthest I have travelled and the most expensive trip”, says Borussia supporter Joschi about the 700€ trip to the Azerbaijan capital and continues “I have done 21 countries with Borussia already, trying to get all the European countries on the map. Number 22 is pretty special for me. In total including the trips I've done without Borussia this is gonna be flag #41”. While the passionate groundhopper and the other fans in Baku will see the match live, there is no chance for Borussia supporters staying behind to see moving pictures of the match. No TV station saw the need to cover the decided tie, due to a complicated right situation not even Borussia Dortmund’s own Netradio will be covering the match. Some Borussia fans even came up with the idea of buying the Broadcasting Rights directly of Agdam, but at a cost of some 100.000€ this idea was put down quickly. There is still a glimpse of hope as some Azerbaijan channel will be broadcasting the match live, but the said channel can only be received via Turksat 3.
Let’s just hope we take the easy route, don’t fall behind early on in the match and save as much power for the vital Stuttgart match on Sunday
Here is how Borussia could play: Weidenfeller – Schmelzer, Santana, Subotic, Owomoyela – Sahin, Bender – Großkreutz, Kagawa, Feulner – Lewandowski
The match kicks off at 9pm CET on Thursday, August 26th