Erling Haaland has been ruled out for "two to three weeks" with a hip injury. bundesliga.com looks at how Borussia Dortmund will compensate for the 21-year-old's team-leading 13 goals in all competitions...
On his return to action against Mainz on Bundesliga Matchday 8, the Norwegian resumed his pursuit of the Torjägerkanone with a second-half brace - goals eight and nine of the current Bundesliga campaign. That's as many as Bayern Munich counterpart and fellow Ballon d'Or nominee Robert Lewandowski, albeit in two fewer appearances.
If head coach Marco Rose's prognosis is correct, Haaland could be absent for meetings with Arminia Bielefeld (a), Ingolstadt (h, DFB Cup), Cologne (h), Ajax (h, UEFA Champions League) and RB Leipzig (a).
Going like-for-like isn't an option when the man to be replaced is averaging a goal every 60 minutes in this season's Bundesliga and boasts a barely fathomable running total of 49 strikes in as many top-flight games, but Die Schwarzgelben do have alternative modes of attack...
Against Augsburg and Sporting, Donyell Malen was deployed as the most advanced forward, with captain Marco Reus and Julian Brandt in close support. When Haaland has been missing in previous campaigns, Reus, Brandt and even Thorgan Hazard have been tasked with false No.9 duties.
Any of the above in the Haaland role doesn't overly disrupt Rose's preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation, especially with so many willing, able and versatile protagonists along the supply line.
US international Gio Reyna, for one, is tried and tested in the No.10 role and would enable Reus to play as a makeshift frontman. The teenager hasn't played since late August due to a nagging muscular complaint, but is expected back before Haaland.
That's not to say Rose is a one-trick pony. Far from it, in fact.
At Gladbach, the 45-year-old decided the tools at his disposal were best suited to a 4-2-3-1 formation, but alternated between a diamond and flat 4-4-2 whilst in charge of Red Bull Salzburg. Across 13 competitive games as Dortmund boss, he has already used the first two of those, as well as 4-3-3, 4-3-2-1 and 3-5-2 variations.
Tellingly, BVB have won three of four games in which a three-man forward line took to the field. Again, versatility is key. Brandt, Hazard, Malen, Reus and Reyna can all operate through the middle or out wide. The re-emergence of winger Marius Wolf adds another string to Rose's bow.
Watch: Marco Rose's Borussia Dortmund diamond
That being said, the likes of Malen, Reus and Brandt could stay where they are, if Rose takes the thoroughbred striker route.
Promoted from the reserve team in winter 2020, Steffen Tigges made nine senior appearances under Edin Terzic, whilst ending the 2020/21 Regionalliga West campaign with 22 goals in 35 outings as BVB won the regional title in the fourth tier.
Although injury has restricted him to 68 minutes of senior football in the early part of the new season, as well as three 3. Liga outings totalling two goals, he is on the mend. The former Germany U20 international is also Dortmund's only other centre-forward in the plus-6'0" category.
Smaller in stature but even bigger in talent, Youssoufa Moukoko would ordinarily be ahead of Tigges in the pecking order.
The 16-year-old made history as the Bundesliga's youngest debutant and goalscorer last season, having hit 127 goals in just 84 appearances in all competitions for BVB at youth level. He partnered Haaland from the start in this summer's DFL Supercup against Bayern Munich, and led the line in his absence at Gladbach on Bundesliga Matchday 6.
A muscular injury sustained on Germany U21 duty during the October international break has checked his progress, but Rose is "hopeful he'll be back to face Cologne" on Matchday 10.
Perhaps Haaland-less Dortmund are not as "thin on the ground in attack" as the man behind the wheel man first feared.
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