Opening Stage in Stuttgart
On Saturday afternoon Borussia Dortmund starts into the last third of this year's campaign. What is going to follow are definitely 10 matches which could increase to 14, if our beloved club could accomplish the feat to reach the final of Champions League and DFB-Pokal. For sure it's not our aim to get carried away, but these are the upcoming opponents: VfB Stuttgart, Real Madrid, VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern München, 1. FSV Mainz 05, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1899 Hoffenheim and Hertha BSC. No no-brainer at all, are they?
First and last BVB has to counter a quite unpromising statistic: Borussia Dortmund could only win 4 of their 8 Bundesliga matches before Champions League clashes. Certainly improvable, if they do not want to revitalize another patient, which is struggling towards second division. Nevertheless, Coach Jürgen Klopp told on yesterday's media conference what he thinks about the mentioned statistic: "We're really self-critical but these losses have got nothing to do with upcoming CL-clashes. We are aware that we've probably lost too many matches, but the Champions League has got nothing to do with it. This is why we don't have to get this fact out of our minds." He continued: "My players and I are not thinking about Real Madrid, yet. We're totally focussed on our next match. One can accuse us of many things, but missing dedication can never be a part of it."
Similar to me, Klopp furthermore initiated the crunch mode: "The important phase of this year's campaign starts now. The 'Derby' gave valuable impressions of the physical constitution of the team. The players seemed to be really agile and rested. During the last years we never had problems in the last third of the season, with these 18 players left, we still got opportunities to give single players a rest. Still it's our goal to win every single match."
Lukasz Piszczek Probably Sidelined
Unfortunately we have got some bad news from the sickbay. According to Jürgen Klopp, Polish international Lukasz Piszczek seems to carry around with himself some muscular problems during the last weeks. Especially in respect of the exhausting upcoming weeks, he will probably be rested. "With the increasing load during the upcoming weeks, we are not allowed to wear him out," Klopp told. Furthermore Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Roman Weidenfeller complain of flu-like symptoms. If they are able to participate in Stuttgart, will probably be decided today. However, their situation is not as bad as the condition of Piszczek.
Meeting An Old Acqaintance
On Saturday, Moritz Leitner will also meet his old companions again. The performances of the midfielder, who is on loan to Stuttgart for two years, are quite up-and-down this season. Nevertheless, he picked up a lot more match practice, that Dortmund could not offer him. "We're still watching Moritz Leitner and if we had known, that our injury list would be that long, we wouldn't have let him go," Klopp told yesterday. "He made a lot of good matches, still it didn't work out very well in Stuttgart in general. Moritz seems to have taken a step forward, nevertheless it's his task to come of age on the pitch. He's on loan, this is why we're keep on watching him." If Leitner would also go to second divison with VfB Stuttgart, Klopp could not answer. This will probably become a topic, if the Swabians would really be relegated.
In terms of the style of play, there will probably be no Black and Yellow surprises. "We're concentrating on the last two matches of VfB Stuttgart. Coach Stevens as well as striker Vedad Ibisevic are changing their style completely. Last year's match has no importance to us," Klopp said. One has to be aware, that VfB Stuttgart is struggling in relegation battle and that these matches often offer a really high intensity and a lot of duels. It is going to be the task of Borussia Dortmund to not let VfB take the fight of themselves, like HSV did a few weeks ago.
Therefore, I would like to close this preliminary report with another quotation of Klopp, that sums up the upcoming weeks pretty well: "Except for the championship, it is about everything for everyone. The upcoming matches will prove this. The season's goals of many clubs are either in danger or in sight. We've to be aware, that there'll be no friendlies until May."
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich - Schwaab, Rüdiger, Niedermeier, Sakai - Gentner, Boka - Harnik, Traoré, Rausch - Ibisevic.
Substitution's Bench: Vlachodimos - Haggui, Gruezo, Khedira, Leitner, Maxim, Sararer, Abedllaoue, Cacau, Werner.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller (Langerak) - Großkreutz (Piszczek), Sokratis, Hummels, Durm - Sahin, Kehl - Aubameyang (Hofmann), Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski.
Substitute's Bench: Langerak, Friedrich, Kirch, Hofmann, Jojic, Ducksch, Schieber.
Referee: Weiner (Giesen).
Kickoff: 29th of March 2014 - 3.30. P.M. CET.
Attendance: Mercedes-Benz-Arena, 60,449 (sold-out)