bundesliga.com previews the must-see second coming of one of Japan's most famous exports...
Only a few weeks into the 2014/15 campaign, and Borussia Dortmund are already playing catch-up - this time to pacesetters Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The injuries are also mounting ahead of a 22-day period that'll see BVB take in no less than seven games, starting at home to a Freiburg side still searching for their first Bundesliga win of the season.
Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski are the latest casualties to join waylaid quintet Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan, Nuri Sahin, Oliver Kirch and Dong-Won Ji on the sidelines. Kagawa's involvement was in doubt at one point yesterday, but Jürgen Klopp insists the two-time Bundesliga champion "will see some action" on Matchday 3. Italian striker Ciro Immobile could feature, despite picking up a hip injury on international duty.
Christian Streich doesn't have quite so many absentees to contend with after the club's ten international representatives all returned from their travels unscathed. Sebastian Freis and are training with the team again following injury, but veteran right-back Sascha Riether (Knee), goalkeeper Daniel Batz, American Caleb Stanko (cruciate) and influential holding midfielder Karim Guede (suspended) are definitely out.
Irrespective of whether he's named in the starting line-up or not, Kagawa - having won two Bundesliga crowns and the DFB Cup during his previous two-year stint at BVB - is certainly deserving of all the post-transfer hype. "We can't wait another couple of weeks," Klopp said of his prized creator-in-chief. "He's a massive player for us, but we shouldn't expect him to be at the level he was two years ago straightaway."
Switzerland international striker Admir Mehmedi kept the England national team busy in UEFA 2016 European Championship qualifying earlier this week, albeit in an eventual 2-0 reverse. The 23-year-old netted 12 Bundesliga goals last season, but is still awaiting his first strike of 2014/15 as well as his first against the mighty Schwarz-Gelben.
Jürgen Klopp: "With all the injuries, it's going to be a completely new and untested starting line-up. That's just how it is."
Christian Streich: "We're going to have to try and find ways to keep Dortmund on their toes and make life difficult for them."
After opening their Bundesliga campaign with a 2-0 defeat at home to first-placed Leverkusen, Dortmund put points on the board a week later courtesy of a 3-2 win over FC Augsburg. Freiburg also lost on Matchday 1, going down 1-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt, before holding Borussia Mönchengladbach to a goalless draw in a game in which Mehmedi missed a second-half penalty.
In possibly one of the most one-sided Bundesliga match-ups of recent times, Dortmund have run out victorious in nine of their last ten league encounters with Freiburg. Indeed, in the last two seasons combined, Klopp's men have racked up an aggregate score of 13-1, with die Breisgauer's only league win over BVB coming on home soil back in May 2010.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Sokratis, Durm - Kehl - Bender, Großkreutz - Mkhitaryan, Kagawa - Aubameyang
SC Freiburg: Bürki - Sorg, Krmas, Kempf, C. Günter - Schmid, Schuster, Darida, Klaus - Schahin, Mehmedi