Borussia Dortmund are likely going to be without starting centre-back Marc Bartra in the next two matches. The 25-year-old picked up an adductor muscle strain in the 5-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
The summer signing told reporters after the game that he first felt something in his groin area when he played an incredible no-look through ball to Raphael Guerreiro ahead of the first goal for the Black and Yellows. He went to the ground after 11 minutes and immediately signalled he had to be taken off.
Matthias Ginter replaced him against the Wolves and will do the same for the entirety of Bartra’s absence, seeing as Sven Bender, the only other proven senior option at centre-back, remains out with a foot injury he picked up on international duty with Germany at the Rio Olympics himself.
Mixed Zone Interviews: VfL Wolfsburg
Mikel Merino played at centre-back through much of the pre-season but has been called a “specialist for defensive midfield” by head coach Thomas Tuchel in a recent press conference. It remains to be seen if the young Spaniard is considered a back-up or the Black and Yellows put a defender from the under-23 team on the bench while Bartra is out.
Another option would be to play Lukasz Piszczek at centre-back, presumably with Felix Passlack starting over the experienced Poland international at right-back.
Per data accumulated by the excellent football injuries blog, Dortmund should be without their No. 5 for about 11 days, which would also put his status for the important meeting with Bayer Leverkusen on October 1 in doubt.
With the Ruhr side struggling to contain Wolfsburg on Tuesday in Bartra’s absence, this injury will serve as a sort of litmus test for their defensive depth. This writer was among a number of observers who felt the Black and Yellows should have added another experienced centre-back in the summer.
Let’s hope that Ginter and whoever gets the nod as the primary back-up central defender can pass the test.