Munich - Results are rarely at the forefront of a coach's mind with a month of pre-season preparations still to go and, with two new forwards on show, Borussia Dortmund's 1-1 draw at Third Division VfL Osnabrück was of secondary importance at best to head coach Jürgen Klopp.
Immobile: 'A lot of hard work still ahead'
Ciro Immobile, Dong-Won Ji and Adrian Ramos are the triumvirate brought on board by Klopp and sporting director Michael Zorc to plug the gap left by the departure of Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski for FC Bayern München. While Ramos is still on holiday following his exertions for Colombia at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, both Immobile and Ji were given their debut run-out for die Schwarz-Gelben in front of a 13,000 crowd at the Osnatel Arena.
Despite having one good chance apiece, neither managed to mark the occasion with a goal in what was a competitive encounter, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan's stunning solo effort in the 65th minute eventually cancelling out Nicolas Feldhahn's first-half penalty for a host side only days away from the start of their own league campaign. “They were playing for the first time after three days training, and only 20 minutes of that together with the rest of the team. Going straight up against a Third Division side when you're being so closely scrutinised is far from optimal,” Klopp conceded.
Under the circumstances, he added, “there's no point trying to extrapolate anything from their performances today.” Immobile, who replaced Ji in the second half, concurred, saying, “we felt very heavy-legged today. I think we've a lot of hard work still ahead of us.” Asked what Klopp had said before sending him on, last season's Serie A top scorer responded, “he just told me to stay calm, play football and enjoy it.”
Ji: 'Just fantastic'
The Italian may not have started as he means to go on but Immobile's first taste of German football has only whetted his appetite for more. “We've a lot more games coming up,” he noted, “which means a lot more opportunities to score.” Ji for his part is no stranger to the Bundesliga, with two half-seasons at Augsburg under his belt already. This, though, is something else altogether. “I supported Dortmund as a kid, now I'm getting to play for them. It's just fantastic,” the rangy South Korean forward enthused. His own targets for the coming campaign are simply “to integrate well into the team, play regularly and help them.”
With so much attention focused on the forward department, Neven Subotic's first starting appearance in eight months slipped somewhat into the background. The Serbian international centre-back, who missed most of last season with a double ligament rupture, had a first brief stint off the bench in Saturday's 4-3 win at FC Heidenheim but this time he was on from the start. Good news for him - and for Klopp, perhaps the best of the entire evening.