Cologne - It is typical of Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos that just two weeks after suffering a fracture in his leg, the Greek defender is already planning his first-team return.
For the cause
The 26-year-old suffered the injury in BVB’s 1-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 11 but could potentially miss just one game for the Schwarz-Gelben.
As we have come to expect, the man known affectionately at the Signal Iduna Park as ‘Papa’ laid his body on the line for the Dortmund cause once more in the club’s final game before the international break. The 2012 domestic double winners had gone into the game bottom of the table, and would have stayed there had they not picked up three points against their namesake.
In the dying minutes, Sokratis flung himself into a challenge with Andre Hahn and despite the collision appearing innocuous, came off worse. He was booked for the foul but also left the pitch in visible pain, after which club doctor Markus Braun confirmed he had suffered a fractured fibula.
A real presence
Yet incredibly, he is expected to be in contention for the trip to Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League on 26 November, since the affected joint was not displaced and weight can still be placed on it. Sokratis has been part of a squad ravaged by injuries since his arrival in 2013. They were misfortunes that he had hitherto managed to avoid, but even an apparently serious injury cannot keep him out of the team for long.
The former SV Werder Bremen man’s sheer strength is remarkable, as is his footballing ability. “Papa’s qualities in the tackle help us in so many situations,” says BVB coach Jürgen Klopp of the man that has won 61 per cent of his domestic challenges and scored twice in all competitions this term. "The authority he exudes out on the pitch is just cool.”
Initially given an extended run in the team after a serious injury to Neven Subotic last November, Sokratis was arguably the club’s player of the season in 2013/14 and has missed just one of BVB’s last 34 league games. An immaculately efficient defender, his positioning, concentration, communication and qualities in one-on-one situations have been impeccable since he swapped Bremen for Dortmund.
Klopp would have had his heart in his mouth at the sight of his Greek warrior writhing in pain against the Foals, particularly with captain Mats Hummels currently on the treatment table with ligament damage in his foot. However, the injury has come at the perfect time from a Borussia perspective, with the international break ensuring he is set to miss just one league game, away to SC Paderborn 07 at the weekend.
And as it turns out, the booking he received for the challenge on Hahn was his fifth of the season, meaning he would have been suspended for the trip to the Benteler-Arena anyway. It seems BVB’s luck might finally be turning.
Relive Dortmund's win over Gladbach - and that crazy own goal from the Foals' Christoph Kramer - below courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: