Borussia Dortmund will play their first home match on Thursday in the return leg against Wolfsberger AC. BVB won the match in Austria 1-0 and are heavy favourites to make it to the Europa League play-off round (maybe even to win the competition). There are hardly any better conditions for a first home match of the season. Floodlight and more than 63.000 fans eager to see their teams play in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. Thomas Tuchel said it in the press conference: “The pitch is in super condition. Now we get the chance to play in front of such a big crowd under floodlight. Where else would it be possible to play the third qualification round in front of more than 60.000 other than at Borussia Dortmund, you are inclined to ask? This is what characterizes this club and the sort of energy we (the coaching staff) have been looking forward to ever since our assignment. This is the energy we want to sense and we want to utilize. A special force shall prosper, starting tomorrow. The euphoria in this town is enormous.” While Tuchel sounds a bit like Master Yoda when talking about the atmosphere in the Westfalenstadion, he has a point. The euphoria and passion for Borussia Dortmund is unbroken and the excitement for the new era after Jürgen Klopp is ecstatic.
In terms of personnel the coach will have to plan his squad without Neven Subotic and Erik Durm, who are nursing minor injuries and have only trained individually during the week. On the upside Adrian Ramos is a candidate to be in the squad after the friendly against Betis Sevilla, where the striker scored a goal. Since injuries aren’t causing a major headache, Tuchel will be able to field his best eleven. Roman Weidenfeller will be in goal, as it was arranged from the getgo, meaning the ‘goalkeeper question’ will remain open.
What was said at the press conference
…on the importance of the match:
“It’s an important game for us, because we want to play internationally this season.”
…on his chance to secure a permanent place under Tuchel:
“I played almost 80 matches in the last two years under Jürgen Klopp, which shows that I’ve been a regular starter. So far it has been fun under Thomas Tuchel’s tutelege, it’s a new beginning for everyone and everyone has to prove, that he wants to be a starter. We always want to be ready, and whoever is in best shape will be on the pitch.”
…on what can be done better than in the first leg:
“The set-piece defending will remain a topic, because we allowed the opponent two unnecessary chances. We want to defend better there. All in all it was sovereign win, but if you are sitting on a slim lead and the opposition creates a few chances, which get the home crowd back into the match, you might get the impression that it wasn’t as dominant as it was. We conceded the first chance after 64 minute and another one later on that led to a corner. We had to clear the ball off the line, but that’s not forbidden and part of the game. It was a deserved win in Austria, but we could have decided the tie earlier with more determination, concentration and precision. In the future we have the ambition to decide close games with more serenity. On Thursday we are looking for a more dominant display in our own stadium. as it’s in our responsibility to delight our fans from the first minute on. We are one week further, one week fresher, one week longer together and will enter the game with a lot of confidence without taking anything on the light shoulder.”
In summary, the appeal of the match will depend on how fresh the players currently are. Borussia Dortmund will undoubtedly be in control of the game against Wolfsberger AC. It has the chance to turn into a match with tantalizing football resulting in a resounding scoreline, or a gritty ‘duty win’. My hunch says it will be a former, but you will have to see for yourself.
Line-up: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer – Weigl, Gündogan – Mkhitaryan, Kagawa, Reus – Aubameyang (4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1)