Dortmund - Two of the five Bundesliga clubs yet to drop a point this season go head-to-head in Friday evening's Matchday 3 opener when Borussia Dortmund play host to Werder Bremen (kick-off 20:30 CET).
A first for Klopp
Indeed, Dortmund top the early standings on goal difference, while the visitors from the north coast are the only club in either of Germany's top two flights who have yet to concede a goal. That said, the teams' respective roles are fairly well defined going into what can scarcely be classified as a contest of equals.
BVB, who have incidentally managed to win both opening games of a league campaign for the first time since Jürgen Klopp took over as head coach in 2008, are looking to lay down a further marker for the benefit of their potential title rivals, headed naturally enough by defending champions FC Bayern Munich. Klopp is preparing his troops for a defensively-orientated Werder side high on confidence on the back of their own winning start.
"We got a bit of practice for that type of game against Eintracht Braunschweig. It's up to us to find solutions," said the coach, who at the same time is well aware that "Bremen can strike at any point of the match. They're a side with a lot of potential just waiting to be set free." His own team have of course given full rein to their potential over the past three years, although at the moment, and not for the first time, a process of adjustment is underway. In this instance, it revolves first and foremost around the integration of summer signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into BVB's now Mario Götze-less ranks.
Fresh midfield options
Mkhitaryan's first taste of Bundesliga action against Braunschweig was fairly low-key, certainly in contrast to the fireworks produced by Aubameyang the week before at FC Augsburg. The Armenian No10 will be settled into his role gradually, however, as was the case with Ilkay Gündogan a couple of years ago. Gündogan's guile was sorely missed against freshly-promoted Braunschweig and the playmaker is still sidelined with a back problem aggravated during Germany's friendly international against Paraguay last week.
On the upside in the midfield department, youngster Jonas Hofmann has shone in a series of cameos, contributing directly to no fewer than five goals in just 44 minutes of playing time all-told in BVB's last three competitive outings - two assists in the DFB Cup, two penalties earned in the Bundesliga and the opener against Braunschweig. The 21-year-old could well be in line for another stint off the bench against Bremen, while Klopp is keeping his options open as to whether Sokratis will retain his place in the centre of defence against his former club, or make way for Neven Subotic again.
Dutt keeping it real
Klopp's visiting counterpart, Robin Dutt, meanwhile has the opportunity to kick off his tenure as Thomas Schaaf's successor by writing a new paragraph in the Bremen club annals, as they have never before opened a Bundesliga season with three straight wins. The former DFB director of sport is not getting carried away by the prospect, however, noting that "with all respect to Braunschweig and Augsburg, Dortmund are a different proposition altogether." By a quirk of scheduling fate, BVB and Werder have played the same two opponents so far, with the Green-Whites perhaps somewhat fortunate to have emerged from their own games with a maximum haul.
Skipper Clemens Fritz has now been definitely ruled out for a starting berth at the Signal Iduna Park due to a thigh problem, while Dutt will make a late call on the fitness of central defender Luca Caldirola. New Argentinian forward Franco Di Santo is meawhile set for a place on the bench at the very least. The coach is gearing up for a tough evening one way or the other and has warned that "if we're to have a chance, we need to get everything right - and hope that Dortmund aren't at the top of their game."
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Subotic (Sokratis), Hummels, Schmelzer - Sahin, Bender - Blaszczykowski, Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Prödl, Lukimya, Gebre Selassie - Makiadi, Kroos, Junuzovic - Hunt, Petersen, Ekici