Borussia Dortmund will take on the project ‘TSG Hoffenheim’ on Friday night (kick-off: 20.30 cet) to take on the project ’12 points before the winter break’. Apart from VfL Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund simply must pick off the remaining opponents, that are Hoffenheim, Hertha and Bremen. Of course, nothing comes easy in these times but this is an last attempt to hope for Champions League in 2015/2016.
Let’s do the math: In the past four years, only once a team finished fourth below the 60 point line. So, even if Dortmund wins the remaining four games of the season, they’d still have to come up with around 12 wins out of 17 games in the Rückrunde. Hard to imagine in the current days, but not impossible.
“The plan is this: Next summer we are all sitting somewhere in a garden and look back at this season and we’ll all have big fat grin our faces. But until then we’ll have a lot of work to do.” – Jürgen Klopp at the BVB Christmas party on Wednesday
Now put your calculators away, we’ve reached the relegation dog fight. Wondering about Champions League places is completely and utterly misplaced, what were you thinking?!
Borussia Dortmund is bottom of the league and getting out of the drop zone is the number one priority. Positive results are the only way to get out of the wheel of nervousness. Jürgen Klopp is keen to field a side that is able to deal with setbacks in a game – it’s not unlikely that Hoffenheim will take the lead, so he needs a side that will believe in a turnaround instead of panicking.
Will Klopp ask his players to lie down on the couch and talk about their childhoods in order to find out, which players are up for his demand and which are too fickle to deserve a starting spot? Probably not, yet one on one conversations with his players will be one part of the assessment.
Which players should he drop then, who showed nerves after going 1-0 down in Frankfurt and who still looked unshaken? Feel free to discuss this in the comments, fellow hobby psychologist.
- Neven Subotic? The defender had 16 misplaced passes the game.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan? Once again the Armenian flinched in sight of goal.
- Roman Weidenfeller? May has lost his calm decision making before the 2-0
- Shinji Kagawa? Did he actually play last Sunday?
- Matthias Ginter? Is it all too much for him to settle in?
You’ll be the judge of that (well, actually Klopp is).
More importantly, Mats Hummels and Jakub Blaszczykowski possibly make their comebacks against Hoffenheim. The Dortmund captain was harshly missed in the last two games (as the above mentioned 16 misplaced passes by Neven Subotic perfectly illustrate). Markus Gisdol’s side will most definitely pounce on any harshly misjudged vertical pass, so it’s good to know Hummels is back. Only so Hoffenheim can mark him out of the game and leave the passing to Subotic. Brilliant.
But there is actually the possibility of Piszczek – Subotic – Hummels – Schmelzer since the Champions League final in 2013. Isn’t that something. With Bender – Sahin & Großkreutz – Kagawa – Blaszczykowski there is the outlook on some serious vintage football. That’s probably more a nostalgic notion. Putting the sepia-tinted glasses away, we will realize that it’s probably unlikely that this team can pull out a performance like in it’s best days – and let’s not neglect that football has evolved since 2011.
But the return of Jakub Blaszczykowski is something to look forward to. He is an experienced player and a leader in the team – yes, yes sounds like too many phrases. Yet, Kuba is just the player Borussia Dortmund needs to regain some defensive stability on the right side. His partnership with Lukasz Piszczek usually comes easy, even after long interruptions, such is the connection between the two buddies.
Though words of a dreamy BVB fan and reality sometimes do not go hand in hand, so let’s manage expectations.
Friday night is high noon!
Jürgen Klopp is fully aware of Borussia Dortmund’s broad fellowship and the different time zones BVB fans live in…
All kidding aside, Friday night has a lot of potential for a fiery showdown.
Hoffenheim arrive with an average above 3 goals conceded in their last four games, while Borussia Dortmund are always good for stunt these times. It’s a game where no lead is safe, as both team are in a fickle place at the moment.
An offense consisting of Anthony Modeste, Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland and Tarik Elyounoussi is bosting a lot of threats. Pace, strength, combination play, cheekiness and trickery are all combined in Hoffenheim’s offense. As defensive records show, Gisdol’s side is not one to sit and wait, but be on the aggressive. Trying to take the game by the scruff of the neck with Rudy, Schwegler or Polanski in defensive midfield.
It’s not hard to predict, that this game will be messy and about winning second balls to gain momentum on the opponent.
Hopefully Klopp’s eleven will be up for the fight. It’s a shame that Sokratis Papastathopoulos is still missing.
One thing is for sure, though. The Westfalenstadion will be tingling and BVB will do their most to support their team as loud as they can. Any positive play on the pitch, will resonate onto the stands, as fans are simply lusting for something to cheer for.