The Bundesliga has come to an abrupt halt with the opening matchday being followed by an immediate international break which is, despite being a nuisance, at least a chance for some players to add some valuable match fitness.
That is exactly what two Dortmund players got out of Germany’s friendly against Finland in Mönchengladbach on Wednesday. Mario Götze, still waiting for his second debut in black and yellow, started for Joachim Löw’s side and provided two assists in a comfortable 2-0 defeat of Finland.
Julian Weigl also played, replacing Bastian Schweinsteiger with just under 30 minutes to play: perhaps a symbolic passing of the baton in the centre of the Germany midfield. Still looking for top fitness and form, Dortmund fans will hope to see Weigl from the start when the Bundesliga resumes and these minutes will only do him good.
Wednesday night also saw Emre Mor play 85 minutes for Turkey, where he offered a typically exciting display against Russia. Nuri Sahin watched the whole game from the bench, which is at least an improvement on his current standing in Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
A further six first-team members were in action on Thursday evening: Shinji Kagawa played the entirety of Japan’s shock 2-1 defeat to the UAE. There were debuts at senior and u21 level for Ousmane Dembélé (France) and Mikel Merino (Spain) respectively. The rise of Dembélé has been a remarkable one – just 16 months ago he was still playing regularly for the second team at Rennes’ and had not made his Ligue 1 debut.
Merino, meanwhile, earned fantastic reviews for his Spain u21 debut and can’t be far away from forcing his way into Tuchel’s weekly plans.
Best player on the field Mikel Merino though. U-21 debut after coming up from U-19 group. @BVB’s got an absolute monster on their hands.
— David Cartlidge (@davidjaca) September 1, 2016
Marc Bartra, now known as ‘the Harry Potter of Dortmund’ in the Spain camp, played 30 minutes in Spain’s win over Belgium in their first game under Julen Lopetegui.
Reigning European Champion Raphaël Guerreiro has already been used in a variety of positions at Dortmund but returned to left-back for Portugal’s first game since the Euro 2016 final; they comfortably beat Gibraltar 5-0 without Cristiano Ronaldo, who should be fit enough to face Dortmund in the Champions League later this month.
Last but not least, Greece actually won a game! It’s been a tough couple of years at international level for Sokratis but he will be delighted with a 2-1 win against the Netherlands.
A number of youth and BVB II players made the Germany u20 squad, with David Sauerland starting in an unfortunate 1-0 loss to Italy on Friday evening.
Before the second round of fixtures over the weekend and early next week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Christian Pulisic (USA) and Dzenis Burnic (Germany u19s) should be in action on Friday.
Lukasz Piszczek should play for Poland against Kazakhstan on Sunday. Roman Bürki is in the Switzerland squad but is not expected to play against Portugal, and BVB teammate Guerreiro, on Tuesday.
Still in Dortmund
Back at Brackel, André Schürrle is in training again after a back problem *ahem* ruled him out of the Germany squad. First-team members Roman Weidenfeller, Marcel Schmelzer, Joo-Ho Park, Gonzalo Castro, Sebastian Rode and Adrian Ramos were not called up and remain in training. Also in training in Dortmund is Felix Passlack.
Thomas Tuchel also has Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender back training after the pair won Olympic silver with Germany, plus the likes of Patrick Fritsch, just one of the talented youth players making up the numbers in the sessions this week.
Anyway: one week until the Bundesliga returns!
Saturday Update from Lars Pollmann
Two more players were in action late on Friday, with great success.
First, Aubameyang scored a beauty in a come-from-behind win for Gabon against Sudan. Gabon, of course, will host the African Cup of Nations in January, so it was only a friendly. Still, it’s good to see Aubameyang starting a new scoring streak after an up-and-down pre-season.
— Afrik-Foot (@afrikfoot) September 2, 2016
Even later on Friday, Pulisic came off the bench in the USA’s 6-0 routing of St. Vincent & the Grenadines in a qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Dortmund’s 17-year-old only needed about 16 minutes to steal the show, as he assisted one and scored two goals himself.
In the process, he became the youngest scorer in USMNT World Cup qualifiying history, another one for his collection of records.
Here’s a video of his awesome performance against, it has to be said, absolutely hapless opposition:
— Daniel G. (@guba1a) September 3, 2016