On Tuesday night Borussia Dortmund will take on reigning polish champions Legia Warsaw at the Westfalenstadion on Champions League MD 5.
After winning both Champions League group stage games against Sporting CP, the Black and Yellows are under less pressure to grab a result against Legia Warsaw on Tuesday, as they sit two points clear of Group F with the qualification for the round of 16 already wrapped up.
It will be a new experience for Thomas Tuchel to go into a Champions League match at the back of a massive win in the league and the freedom of picking a squad that is not entirely drained from a recent onslaught of games and thinned out by injuries.
After having cut down the gap to Bayern Munich to three points, there is a sense of new beginnings at BVB with Marco Reus finally on the cusp to make his long-awaited comeback. The 27-year-old was ruled out on Saturday due to ‘slight heel’ problems, as the club didn’t want to risk any further injuries after an 183-day absence.
On Friday, the Dortmund manager revealed that Reus might have been a candidate to start against Munich if it wasn’t for his injury. “He has trained a lot, we’re confident he can play at the highest level of intensity,” the 43-year-old said. If that makes the German international an automatic starter against Legia remains to be seen.
The Squad, however, will differ either way from the eleven players that started on Saturday, as Tuchel announced that he will make rotations to have fresh energy on the green. That could mean a run-out for the likes of Nuri Sahin, Shinji Kagawa, Sebastian Rode, Ousmane Demélé, Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic or Felix Passlack. The latter might have to once again fill in as left-back if Dortmund opt for a back-four, as Raphael Guerreiro is once again unavailable while Marcel Schmelzer (sick) and Erik Durm (knee problems), are touch and go.
In general, this writer doesn’t feel Schmelzer’s inclusion in the matchday squad will be all that likely, as there is no need to risk the integral team captain in a less relevant Champions League tie with Dortmund planning to extend their Bundesliga winning streak on the weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt.
However, the Black and Yellows won’t just give up on their first place in Group F. “There is no guarantee to get the weaker team when finishing first in the group,” Tuchel told journalists on Monday, but it not only makes it all the more likely to draw a stronger team, it’s also about their own UEFA co-efficient and money for the Ruhr side.
Though the reverse fixture will probably not be as straight forward as the 6-0 win on Matchday 1. Legia Warsaw arrive at the Westfalenstadion with four consecutive league wins under their belt and the 3-3 shock result against Real Madrid on the previous UCL Matchday. Newly appointed coach Jacek Magiere has applied his magic and brought the polish champions back to fourth place in the Extra Klasa.
With a win in Dortmund the Polish minnows drawn from pot 4 could potentially leapfrog Sporting, who host Real Madrid in the reverse fixture. While the Black and Yellows could wrap up the group win, if Los Blancos fail to claim three points in Lisbon.
If the prospect of a group win doesn’t get you pumped for the match, it might simply be the return of Mr Reus, who might finally reinvigorate his bromance with Mario Götze on the field or link up with Ousmane Dembélé or Christian Pulisic.
And after nerve wrecking 90 minutes, most Dortmund fans will appreciate a kick-about without as much at stake as three days earlier.