Dortmund - Retaining their Bundesliga title may now be beyond Borussia Dortmund’s control, but the still-reigning champions will need to be on top of their game against relegation-threatened FC Augsburg on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET) if they are to keep Bayer 04 Leverkusen at arm's length in the race for second place.
After Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Malaga CF in the UEFA Champions League, Dortmund will be eager to take out their frustrations on the 16th-placed visitors, but with the quarter-final second leg just three days away, coach Jürgen Klopp has admitted he'll be putting out a side consisting of players who "still have fuel left in the tank”.
However, BVB are well aware that Augsburg are not to be underestimated given the precarious position in which the Bavarians currently find themselves. “Every team has had problems playing against them,” explained Klopp, who believes patience will be the key to collecting all three points on home turf.
Defender Neven Subotic told local newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten that “Augsburg will be a real test ahead of the second leg against Malaga. They’re likely to begin very defensively. We’ll have to be very patient. It’s likely to be the same on Tuesday, which makes FCA the perfect opponents.”
The Serbian international is again expected to be partnered by Felipe Santana in the absence of regular centre-back colleague Mats Hummels, though Klopp may be tempted to include the latter in the matchday squad should he be given the green light after a late fitness test.
Polish international Jakub Blaszczykowski may also be set for a return after missing the midweek encounter in southern Spain due to a groin strain. “He’s been running today,” explained Klopp on the club’s official website, but conceded “it will be tight”.
Saturday’s visitors have their own injury concerns to deal with ahead of this weekend’s clash, with star midfielder Ja-Cheol Koo (torn stomach muscle) and USA defender Michael Parkhurst (thigh) definitely unavailable. Tobias Werner is set to return from suspension, but there are still question marks surrounding the fitness of Matthias Ostrzolek (thigh), and strikers Aristide Bance (toe) and Sascha Mölders (foot).
Yet head coach Markus Weinzierl believes Dong-Won Ji and Co. are capable of walking away with something to show for their efforts. “We’re travelling to Dortmund with a lot of courage and want to take something from the encounter,” said the 38-year-old. “It’s obvious to us that we have to produce a top performance against a top side, but we’ve added stability to our situation and are in good form. We need a similar performance to the one in the 2-0 defeat to Hannover, but we’ve got to grab the deciding goals.”
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Felipe Santana, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Kehl - Großkreutz, M. Götze, Reus - Lewandowski
Augsburg: Amsif - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Baier - Hahn, Vogt, Ji, Werner - Mölders