Dortmund - Even with the prospect of a mouth-watering Supercup clash with FC Bayern München a mere six days away, Borussia Dortmund supremo Jürgen Klopp can still afford himself one of those famously cheeky smiles.
World Cup winners back
The 47-year-old watched on with glee on Wednesday as BVB strolled to a routine 3-0 pre-season win over Polish outfit WSK Slask Wroclaw in a game that also witnessed the earlier-than-expected return of Jakub Blaszczykowski. As far as preparations go for BVB's trip to Anfield to take on Premier League runners-up Liverpool FC on Sunday, not to mention the big one against the 23-time Bundesliga champions on 13 August, Dortmund couldn't have asked for much more.
Indeed, as well as Kuba, Klopp now has his five FIFA World Cup winners back in training and already limbering up for the Bayern clash. And let's face it, there’s not a squad in the world which wouldn't be better off for a sprinkling of Roman Weidenfeller, Mats Hummels, Erik Durm, Kevin Groβkreutz and Matthias Ginter.
Ginter, for one, impressed as a second-half substitute against Wroclaw, putting in the kind of defensive shift that suggests Germany international Hummels won't simply walk back into the heart of the BVB back four next week. Neven Subotic, meanwhile, is approaching something resembling his best after his injury lay-off, Sokratis Papastathopolous looks fresh after his exploits in reaching the World Cup last 16 with Greece, and youngster Marian Sarr is well set to build upon his debut campaign in black and yellow.
Gündogan on the road to recovery
Hummels, however, won't be the only one fighting for his starting place against Bayern. Robert Lewandowski’s departure, although adding further intrigue to the Supercup clash, has been long forgotten by Dortmund fans, who are collectively licking their lips at the fearsome prospect of their new look front line. Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos, (both goalscorers against Wroclaw) Dong-Won Ji and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang form one of the most potent and varied attacking lines in Europe, set to be supplemented by an A-grade supply line from a midfield including the fit-again Blaszczykowski.
The Pole's surprise return in his homeland was another boon for Klopp in Supercup week, and with Marco Reus sounding more motivated than ever about his recovery, the 47-year-old’s options are plentiful. Even Ilkay Gündogan, sidelined for nigh-on a year with a back injury, "has his boots back on and is kicking a ball about", according to bvb.de. Whisper it quietly, but with his squad shaping up like this and coming off the back of six wins in seven pre-season games, Klopp’s smile might be about to get a whole lot wider.