Karim Bellarabi got Leverkusen's season off to a flyer with a goal after only nine seconds at the Signal Iduna Park on Matchday 1 as die Werkself emerged 2-0 victors. The loss foreshadowed a wretched Hinrunde for BVB, and Jürgen Klopp knows that his side can hardly afford a repeat performance when two of the Bundesliga's most instinctively attacking sides get the second half of their seasons underway.
From runners up in May to 17th place in January; for Klopp's (l.) side the stakes couldn't be higher and victories are imperative as the Rückrunde begins. For their part, however, Roger Schmidt and his third-placed charges will be looking to take advantage of any slip-ups in Friday night's top-of-the-table clash between FC Bayern München and VfL Wolfsburg.
Full-back Tin Jedvaj is unavailable for the first competitive game of 2015 due to a thigh injury. Elsewhere, Schmidt's attacking options have been limited by Saturday's AFC Asian Cup Final between Australia and South Korea. Werkself team-mates Robbie Kruse and Heung-Min Son will meet in Sydney, but centre-half Kyriakos Papadopolous (r.) has been given the green light.
Of the BVB charges, only Australian custodian Mitch Langerak is still on international duty, after Shinji Kagawa's Japan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's (l.) Gabon crashed out of their continental tournaments. Both will likely be needed as a cold keeps Jakub Blaszczykowski out, while Ilkay Gündogan is doubtful due to a muscle injury.
With four goals to his name already this season, Hakan Calhanoglu has adapted seamlessly to Schmidt's high-pressing style of football. He told bundesliga.com this week that his side 'want to attack and dictate the rhythm' against BVB, and his set-pieces could trouble a visiting defence which conceded 26 goals in the Hinrunde.
Having impressed in Dortmund's mid-season friendlies, new signing Kevin Kampl is set to play a key role in the Rückrunde, starting at former club Leverkusen. "It'll be funny to go back," Kampl explained, but Klopp has no fear he will be overawed by his first Bundesliga appearance in black and yellow. "He sets an unbelievably high tempo and he's comfortable in tight spaces," the coach gushed.
Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach: "It's going to be an intense game without much time to catch your breath."
Jürgen Klopp (r.), Dortmund coach: "We've developed a clear plan as to how we intend to play this game and the whole second half of the season."
Hosts Leverkusen have only been in action three times over the break, beating Fluminense FC and 1. FSV Mainz 05 but losing to SC Corinthians Paulista. Dortmund, meanwhile, have regained some measure of confidence with an unbeaten winter: successive 1-0 wins over FC Sion, FC Steaua Bucuresti and FC Utrecht were followed by a 1-1 draw with Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Despite the defeat on Matchday 1, BVB have the upper hand in recent fixtures with Leverkusen. Die Schwarz-Gelben have never lost at the BayArena under Klopp's stewardship, with three wins and four draws over the last seven years. Die Werkself's last win on home turf against BVB came in 2007 and the sides shared a 2-2 draw last term.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Spahic, Toprak, Wendell - L. Bender, Castro - Bellarabi, Calhanoglu, Drmic - Kießling
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer - Sahin, Gündogan - Kampl, Reus, H. Mkhitaryan - Aubameyang
Check out Nuri Sahin's fabulous strike on the opening Matchday of last season's Rückrunde courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: