Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Nürnberg put their strong starts to 2014 on the line at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend
Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Nürnberg put their strong starts to 2014 on the line at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend

Patchwork Dortmund wary of in-form Franconians

Dortmund - Borussia Dortmund may have to improvise, adapt and overcome if they're to take a chunk out of in-form 1. FC Nürnberg at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday (kick-off 14:30 GMT/15:30 CET).

Defensive headache

Die Schwarzgelben were clinical in dispatching of Russian outfit FC Zenit St Petersburg in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie on Tuesday, but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows come the full-time whistle despite the 4-2 scoreline.

"Sokratis suffered nasty swelling in the Achilles tendon area," head coach Jürgen Klopp said on Thursday of his latest candidate for a place in BVB's oversubscribed treatment room. "He'll only do individual training today, so we'll just have to wait and see."

The Greek international's possible absence could, however, be offset by the return of Mats Hummels, the 25-year-old having "trained normally on Wednesday" after tweaking his ankle in a friendly win over Fortuna Düsseldorf earlier this month. Failing that, Klopp's only other natural option at centre-half would be to pair young Marian Sarr, himself a doubt owing to a minor thigh strain, with veteran Manuel Friedrich.

'Tough proposition'

It's a recurring theme for the Dortmund head coach, who is already without the services of long-term absentees Sven Bender, Ilkay Gündogan, Neven Subotic and Jakub Blaszczykowski, as well as the suspended Marco Reus, for the visit of one of German football's most consistent performers since the Bundesliga reopened its doors for business after its customary winter sabbatical.

"Nürnberg will come here with a lot of confidence," explained Klopp. "We must find the right approach and push ourselves to the limit. Only then will we be a tough proposition for Nürnberg as well, and only then will we be able to beat them."

Bogey ground

Only league leaders FC Bayern München have managed to do so in 2014, with Gertjan Verbeek's rejuvenated Franconian army taking nine points from a possible twelve since securing their first three-point haul of the campaign with a 4-0 win over 1899 Hoffenheim back on Matchday 18.

Confidence may be high at the Grundig Stadion, but Nürnberg nevertheless make the 438-kilometre trip north with some trepidation, unable to call on suspended defensive stalwart Per Nilsson and waylaid Japan international midfielder Makoto Hasebe, and without a league win on Dortmund soil in over 23 years.

Possible line-ups:

Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, M. Friedrich, Sokratis, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Aubameyang, H. Mkhitaryan, Großkreutz - Lewandowski

Nürnberg: R. Schäfer - Angha, Petrak, Pinola, Plattenhardt - Frantz - Gebhart, Feulner, Kiyotake, Hlousek - Drmic

Christopher Mayer-Lodge