Augsburg - After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, FC Augsburg could hardly face tougher opposition in their opening match of the 2013/14 campaign: Borussia Dortmund visit the SGL arena on Saturday (kick-off 15.30 CEST), keen to build on a promising early showing in their over quadruple winners FC Bayern Munich.
Jürgen Klopp’s men will scarcely be satisfied should that remain their only silverware of the campaign though, while for their part, the Fuggerstädter will be looking to get out of the blocks altogether more quickly than last season.
After retaining their Bundesliga status in May on the back of a spectacular second season-half revival, Markus Weinzierl’s side will be hoping for a less eventful campaign this time around. There are grounds for optimism following the news that Sascha Mölders has extended his contract with the club is a timely boost, while new signings Raphael Holzhauser and Halil Altintop will add much-needed creativity to the team.
Altintop says his new club are determined to hit the ground running this season. “I’m new to this team, but I’ve already sensed the solidarity within the camp,” the Gelsenkirchen-born Turkey international said. “Our aim is simple: Survival. Obviously, we also want to make a better start than last season. BVB are a great team and they certainly have more quality in their ranks, but we'll do our utmost to make a good start on Saturday and win the match.”
Apart from Alex Manninger, Markus Weinzierl has a full squad of players to choose from: Mohamed Amsif will start in between the sticks, while new signings Holzhauser and Altintop are likely to be given their full league debuts. Sascha Mölders will be looking to add to his impressive pre-season tally of nine goals.
Ilkay Gündogan is a slight doubt for BVB: The 22-year-old playmaker missed training on Wednesday and Thursday with neck and back problems. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still short on fitness having picked up an ankle injury in pre-season, while Lukasz Piszczek is out until after Christmas following hip and groin surgery.
Dortmund laid down an early marker by winning the Supercup against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. Jürgen Klopp’s side have also enjoyed a good pre-season and progressed comfortably to the second round of the DFB cup with a 3-0 victory over Wilhelmshaven. BVB have also added genuine quality to their attack in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Mkhitaryan, while Sokratis is a more-than-able stand-in should either Mats Hummels or Neven Subotic be unavailable.
Despite being clear favourites going into Saturday's season opener, Klopp is wary of the hosts' potential, warning that, “It's going to be difficult. Our opponents are well-prepared and well-organised. We have to be alert. We have plenty of options and can rotate if necessary.”
Augsburg: Amsif - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Bayer - Hahn, Moravek, Altintop, Holzhauser - Mölders
Dortmund: Langerak - Großkreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, Gündogan, Reus - Lewandowski