Dortmund - Following a disappointing end to 2013, Borussia Dortmund are determined to get off on the right foot in the New Year when they host surprise package FC Augsburg at the Signal-Iduna Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30).
‘Got to cut out the mistakes’
BVB failed to pick up any points from their final three home games in the first half of the season, but are looking to reinforce just how intimidating a trip to Westphalia can be. “It’s our own fault that other teams believe they can come here and get a result,” admitted head coach Jürgen Klopp.
Little went Dortmund’s way leading up to the winter break, yet the 46-year-old was a picture of calm during his pre-match press conference, showing no signs of panic in spite of his side’s current situation. “For a long time in the first half of the season, we were bang on target,” explained Klopp. “Our aim isn’t to catch FC Bayern München, who have a game in hand, but instead to beat Augsburg.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged a hat-trick on a dream debut when these two sides met earlier this season, but despite collecting a 4-0 win on that occasion, Klopp insisted that it was an “incredibly close” encounter and was keen for his side to put their winter preparations into action on Saturday. "Our priority was to work on the problem zones from the first half of the season,” elaborated the Borussia boss. “We’ve got to cut out the mistakes and keep asking questions of Augsburg until they have no more answers.”
The Schwarz-Gelben are yet to suffer defeat against Augsburg in five previous Bundesliga meetings and, with several first-team players returning from injury, will be confident of preserving that record. Lukasz Piszczek could make his 100th appearance in Germany’s top flight, but the encounter comes too soon for Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gündogan who’s “not too far away from returning”, according to Klopp.
From the perspective of the side currently in eighth place, coach Markus Weinzierl has a few absentees to contend with. Mohamed Amsif, Ronny Philp, Jan Moravek and Raphael Holzhauser are all set to miss out while there are still doubts surrounding Dong-Won Ji’s fitness levels. “He underwent two individual training sessions on Thursday and joined first-team training for the first time [on Friday],” said Weinzierl of his winter acquisition. “We’ll make a decision after the final training session.“
However, with or without the South Korean, who is due to join Dortmund in the summer following his second stint with die Függerstädter, Weinzierl remained confident about his side’s chances. “It’s a difficult task,” admitted the 39-year-old. “It’s unthinkable that BVB have lost their last three home games. That won’t make things any easier for us, but we want to pick up points in Dortmund and, if possible, even win the match.”
Considering Augsburg’s performance in the first half of the season, which saw them set a club record for most points collected in a Hinrunde (24) and “earn a lot of respect”, an upset isn’t outside the realms of possibility. “We want to build on our achievements from the first half of the season and show the best side of ourselves,” continued Weinzierl. “We want to play courageously, defend courageously and cause a few surprises as the underdogs.”
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Sokratis, S. Bender, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
Augsburg: Hitz - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Baier - Hahn, Vogt, Halil Altintop, T. Werner - Bobadilla