Freiburg - Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund visit improving SC Freiburg this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CET) looking to close the gap on runaway leaders FC Bayern Munich at the top of the table.
Off the pace
Some corners of the continent may be tipping Dortmund for UEFA Champions League glory following their midweek success over Real Madrid, but while the double winners have been making waves away from Europe's most competitive league, their domestic form hasn't been quite so convincing.
Dortmund have been held to uninspiring draws on three occasions this season and a second defeat of the campaign last week against locals rivals FC Schalke 04 has seen the Yellow-Blacks fall twelve points behind pace-setters FC Bayern. It's a deficit that head coach Jürgen Klopp is determined to haul back, as he made clear in his pre-match press conference: "Of course we want to improve our performance in the Bundesliga."
The case is there to be made that Dortmund's blistering form in Europe has been at the expense of their title defence. The team has already dropped five points off the back of European exertions and will have had less than 72 hours to recover for this game. Klopp reckons, however, that a European 'hangover' isn't a "fundamental" issue, rather insisting that the team are "all focused" on what is likely to be a tricky encounter against plucky Freiburg.
Christian Streich's charges celebrated back-to-back wins for the first time this term following their Matchday 8 triumph over VfL Wolfsburg, a result which incredibly leaves the southern club only a point behind the champions.
Die Breisgauer have steadily improved over the course of the season but their record against Dortmund isn't encouraging, with just two wins in 13 home outings against the Yellow-Blacks. Coach Streich for one, however, is under no illusions about what his team needs to do on Saturday, commenting with typical frankness: "If we don't give 100 per cent against them, we'll lose the game."
Dortmund holding duo Sebastian Kehl and Ilkay Gündogan are expected to start after Sven Bender suffered a knock against Real Madrid, while Ivan Perisic may come in for Mario Götze in attacking midfield. Jakub 'Kuba' Blaszczykowski remains sidelined, but Robert Lewandowski will be flying the Polish flag in his countryman's absence and looking to extend his record of scoring in every game he's played in against Freiburg.
Freiburg: Baumann - Mujdza, Ginter, Diagne, Sorg - Schmid, Schuster, Makiadi, Caligiuri - Jendrisek, Kruse
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Kehl, Perisic, Reus, Großkreutz - Lewandowski