Chemnitzer FC is the first hurdle in the DFB Pokal for Borussia Dortmund. On Sunday noon (14:30 cet kick-off; Live on ESPN3), the black and yellows will be tested again after defeating Wolfsberger AC on Thursday. Supercups aside, the first round DFB Pokal match usually is the first official game of the season, but due to the earlier Europa League rounds it’s not for BVB. At least for the match on Sunday, the earlier start to Dortmund’s season should be another advantage for the already heavy favourite.
The first round of the DFB Pokal draws a lot of its charm from the fact, that the underdogs of the lower leagues are already a few weeks into their season, while the Bundesliga favourites are off to a cold start – competitive football will always be something different than preseason friendlies. For 3. Liga side Chemitzer FC it’s bad news that BVB will enter the match with a bit of routine under competitive circumstances. Yet, it doesn’t make die Schwatzgelben immune to an upset, as Mats Hummels also finds.
“I’m expecting a physical and emotional opponent, backed by an emotional crowd.” Thomas Tuchel said on Saturday’s news conference. Only 12.500 fit into the Stadion an der Gellerstraße in Chemnitz, but they will make sure to create an intimate cup atmosphere. It will be different than in the last two first round cup matches, when Stuttgarter Kickers and Oberneuland moved to the Mercedes-Benz Arena and the Weserstadion respectively to cash in on a bigger attendance. But the coach seems to be somewhat relaxed about the game “The players have won more first round cup matches than me.” Implying that his team knows how to behave in the situation.
While there is always a chance that Chemnitz will score from a set-piece or a counter-attack, Borussia Dortmund haven’t indicated in the past years, that they approach a cup match with an arrogant attitude. The job description is clear: Break the underdog’s spirit as soon as possible and drive the win home safely without any injuries. After all there is very little to gain for a team of BVB’s caliber, while there is an awful lot to lose – which is why the first DFB Pokal match of the season feels only like a preludium to the Bundesliga.
Procrastination and rotation
While Neven Subotic and Erik Durm will re-enter team training next week and are unavailable, Thomas Tuchel has a few options to field fresh legs after Thursday’s match. “Painful but nothing dramatic” is Kevin Kampl’s twisted ankle, which makes the midfielder doubtful but won’t rule him out for the match. After all it will be one of the most interesting things to see, how Thomas Tuchel will deal with the squad depth. Obviously automatism is a great argument to field a consistent starting eleven, but with the abundance of matches ahead the new coach be careful not to overextend his players. Chemnitz might already be the first game, where we see an altered starting eleven. Oh, the excitement!
One who won’t feature in a starting eleven within the next few weeks is Adrian Ramos. “I would have liked to have a fourth substitution for Adrian on Thursday, but we also wanted to give Gonzalo Castro, Jonas Hofmann and Sven Bender time on the field. It’ll be hard to find the right time to give Adrian 15 minutes here and 45 minutes there in highly competitive conditions, that are looming.” Chances are the striker won’t feature in a match before Borussia Dortmund play against Odds BK in the Europa League.
Then there is also that one teasing question left. Who will play in goal? Thomas Tuchel has procrastinated on that decision as long as possible. After all Roman Weidenfeller and Roman Bürki are two quality goalkeepers, who aren’t making this decision easy for Tuchel – which is the way it should be. Will Tuchel name a strict order with a number one and a number two goalkeeper or will he split the competitions, since Barcelona made that model sexy last season with Marc-Andre ter Stegen featuring in the cup competitions, while Cladio Bravo between the sticks in league games? We will find out on Sunday.