Dortmund - The Bundesliga summit meetings are coming thick and fast for Borussia Dortmund and now that the excitement of the has passed, attentions are now firmly focused back on domestic duty.
Klopp: Bayer 'a top-drawer side'
Indeed, head coach Jürgen Klopp believes his charges are effectively faced with “four finals” before the winter recess, factoring in next week's UEFA Champions League trip to Olympique de Marseille alongside the other remaining Bundesliga assignments at 1899 Hoffenheim and at home to Hertha Berlin.
In terms of sheer quality, Leverkusen can make a very good case for being the toughest nut to crack in that quartet, and at the pre-match conference Klopp stressed exactly that. “We have to make it very clear from the very first second that we want to win this game at all costs.” Should they succeed, Dortmund would edge ahead of the visitors and back into second place in the standings on goal difference. The BVB supremo also pointed out that, despite the “plentiful quality” in the opposition ranks, “they haven't been dominating every game from start to finish,” although he remains mindful that a return of 34 out of a possible 42 points is “quite a return. Leverkusen are a top-drawer side.”
On the upside, Borussia's woes seem to be easing slightly on the personnel front. After seven regulars were unavailable and two more not fit enough to start in Tuesday's , deep-lying playmaker Nuri Sahin and top scorer Robert Lewandowski will both likely be good to go from the off again on Saturday, while a late call will be made on , who has been hampered by a calf problem.
Bayer ready to rock
Leverkusen head coach Sami Hyypiä is looking forward to “a duel that any footballer would savour” and is confident that “If everyone performs to his potential and we function as a team, we'll take something away from Dortmund.” That said, the 40-year-old Finn warned on the eve of the encounter, “It's a waste of time travelling to Dortmund without belief in your own ability.” As far as that goes, Bayer custodian said, “I don't think we need any added motivation for this one, everyone knows how important it is. We're looking forward to playing Dortmund in front of that huge crowd. We're ahead of them in the table at the moment and we want things to stay that way come the final whistle.”
Bayer will have to do so without Germany international Sidney Sam, still sidelined with a thigh strain, but they have plenty more forward firepower at their disposal with summer signing Heung Min Son really settling into the groove now alongside last season's Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kießling, who already has nine goals on his account for the current campaign. Both players have played an integral part in making Leverkusen the division's most effective counter-attacking team at the moment. On Saturday, they go up against the side who epitomise high-tempo forward play like no other in the land.
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Friedrich, Sokratis, Durm - Kehl, Sahin, Blaszczykowski, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang - Lewandowski
Leverkusen: Leno - Donati, Toprak, Spahic, Can - L. Bender, Rolfes, Castro - Hegeler, Kießling, Son
Get to know Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes and his unusual hobbies a little better, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: