Forming one half of an historic Bundesliga double-act in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, arguably their biggest game of the season comes on Wednesday when they face Real Madrid for the third time this season.
With that game in mind, coach Jürgen Klopp is playing his cards close to his chest ahead of Saturday's fixture, although putting another three points on the Bundesliga board will not be compromised by his team selection. “Of course it’s crucial that nobody gets injured, but we are focusing fully on Mainz and will field a team who we think can beat them,” he said.
That is unlikely to include Marco Reus, who was training “with the handbrake on loosely” over the past few days, and captain Sebastian Kehl who has been “given time off until Monday” to recover from a foot tendon injury which, Klopp joked, he “picked up while signing his new contract” this week.
Top performance needed
Making too many changes could disrupt the rhythm of a side who have won their last four Bundesliga matches, scoring 17 goals in the process. Klopp could therefore use the game as a dress rehearsal for the Spanish champions, whom his side have already beaten once this term.
Accodingly, the tactician is demanding nothing less than maximum points from his team, which should include record-breaking striker Robert Lewandowski, who will be bidding to score for the 12th game running. “It’s going to be intense,” said the Dortmund coach. “If we drop just one percent in view of Real Madrid, then that would be too much. That is is why we’re focusing on Mainz.”
Nothing to lose
Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel would love to be able to rotate his side, but he says he has enough of a challenge on his hands “getting 16 players” in his squad for Saturday’s trip to the Signal Iduna Park. With no fewer than nine first-team regulars currently out of action, his expectations are not so high, although he believes that could well be the key to victory.
“There is a chance that we will fail,” he said. “But we never throw games away, no matter how small the chances are of us getting a result. It could even allow us to play more calmly and with more freedom.” Nevertheless, he conceded that for his side to burst into the top six, as they could do with a win, “something extraordinary” will be needed.
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Bender, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, Gündogan, Götze - Lewandowski
Mainz: Wetklo - Pospech, Svensson, Noveski, Junior Diaz - Baumgartlinger - Zimling, Soto - Ivanschitz - Müller, Szalai