Munich - 14 days ago, premature doubts about Borussia Dortmund claiming their third consecutive Bundesliga title began surfacing following a 1-1 draw with 1. FC Nuremberg. However, after an international break, Jürgen Klopp was of the opinion that, on Matchday 3, "the season starts from scratch for every team." His side's new season's debut, therefore, is against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CEST).
Under the microscope
A fresh start would be an unnecessary luxury after two Matchdays with both teams sitting in the top half of the table. Dortmund and Leverkusen are both subject to lofty expectations as a result of their impressive, and in BVB's case title-winning, performances in recent seasons, but the pressure is certainly on the hosts, something Bayer 04 will be hoping to exploit on Saturday.
With the main title contenders FC Bayern Munich getting out of the traps quickly with a perfect record, many have assumed that Borussia are showing signs of weakness. Klopp remains unfazed, though, stating after the draw with der Club that Dortmund do not "have to win every time we come to Nuremberg", highlighting that BVB cannot be expected to breeze by any and all opponents, even if nobody has beaten them in 30 attempts. Ahead of the clash with UEFA Europa League participants Leverkusen, the 42-year-old mastermind talked of taking on an "uncomfortable opponent", before going on to say, "we also want to be a problem to them."
"Less so through our pre-match announcements than by what we do on the pitch," continued Klopp. "We must be willing to work incredibly hard and sometimes that will mean chasing the ball." Dortmund only put one goal past die Werkself last season, less than against any other side. However, with Marco Reus recovered from a knock sustained on international duty and a fully-fit squad to choose from, aside from Patrick Owomoyela, the reigning champions' attacking options are far from limited. "We've got an incredible number of options [up front] and we will use our knowledge and belief to find the right combination."
Defeat no tragedy
His counterpart Sami Hyypiä is well aware that his side are going to have to dig deep if they, at the very least, want to take a share of the spoils on offer. "I think it will be a big match," said the former Finland international defender. "We have to travel to Dortmund with a lot of self-confidence if we want to take all three points."
But at such an early stage of the season Hyypiä made no qualms of the fact that one good performance against BVB wouldn't change anything. Nor would a bad one. "After the Dortmund, match there are still 31 matches to be played," he said. "It's of absolutely no help to me if we were to win in Dortmund and then lose the remaining 31 encounters. I would not be happy with that."
The game could also see the clash of two twins. Sven and Lars Bender are in the respective squads, but Dortmund's Sven has yet to play all season and may just make the bench.
Meanwhile, Germany chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will be among the sold-out crowd at the Signal Iduna Park. She will meet with players from both clubs' youth systems before the game, as part of the Go Your Way campaign for integration, which is being supported by the Bundesliga this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Kehl - Blaszczykowski, Reus, Großkreutz - Lewandowski
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Leno - Carvajal, Wollscheid, Toprak, Kadlec - L. Bender, Reinartz, Rolfes - Castro, Kießling, Schürrle