Dortmund will draw level with league leaders Mainz if they are able to earn three points away to Koeln.
This year, Koeln have bucked the Bundesliga’s trend of playing attacking football by focusing primarily on a defensive set-up. As of yet, their strategy has yet to work: having conceded 13 goals and scored just seven, die Geissboecke have slipped into the relegation zone. Though they have not played poorly, Zvonimir Soldo’s men are winless in their last four matches, and will enter Friday’s match hungry for points.
Koeln faced a similar situation a year ago. In the fall of 2009, they barely reached ten goals by mid-season, and weren’t successful enough in defense to avoid a position near the bottom of the table. In spite of the historical precedent, Soldo has insisted that his side are on the right track, and will avoid relegation.
Dortmund may prove to be Koeln’s toughest opponents to date, but in a stadium packed with home fans, the Rhine club will be keen to return to winning ways. Ahead of the match, midfielder Christian Clemens issued a rallying call.
“We must go beyond our borders – then we can stand up to (Dortmund),” he told the official Koeln website.
Three points would be a major ask for Koeln, but the big stage always is cause for surprise.
Critical Stretch Awaits Dortmund
Since their opening day hiccup against Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund have won six consecutive Bundesliga matches on the trot, and in doing so, have advanced to second place in the table. Just three points behind league leaders Mainz, the Ruhr side could go top of the table on Friday, if only for a matter of hours.
On the whole, the season’s start has been majestic for Juergen Klopp’s side. Mainz may lead the league, but Dortmund have equaled their rivals in goals scored, and have conceded fewer than any team in the Bundesliga. Their attractive style and impressive depth has led many to believe that BvB are indeed the league’s best team this year, and are top contenders to claim the Bundesliga title in May.
The next 24 days will be critical for Dortmund, who play seven times during this period, five of which will be on the road. The first test for die Schwarzgelben will be away to Koeln at the notoriously intimidating Rheineneriestadion. Their opponents may be struggling, but BvB have vowed not to underestimate their hosts.
“Koeln have more depth and quality than their position in the table suggests,” sporting director Michael Zorc told the official Dortmund website. “Some seem to take it for granted that we will go there and take three points from Koeln. I don’t like this.”
Zorc may be modest, but should they find the form exhibited before the international break, Dortmund will have absolutely no trouble earning three points and, at least for a short time, top the table.
Kevin McKenna, Christopher Schorch, Sebastian Freis, and Manasseh Ishiaku have all been ruled out of Friday’s clash with various injuries. Additionally, Soldo is expected to make a change in his line-up, with youngster Miro Varvodic replacing Faryd Mondragon in goal.
Probable Starting XI: Varvodic – Brecko, Geromel, Mohamad, Ehret – Clemens, Lanig, Petit, Matuschyk, Jajalo – Podolski
Mario Goetze is expected to return to action on Friday, but will likely start on the bench. Dede has not been officially omitted from Klopp’s squad, although the defender is still far from fit enough to start at left-back. Patrick Owomoyela, Tamas Hajnal, Sebastian Kehl, Mohamed Zidan, and Florian Kringe have been excluded from the match squad.
Probable Starting XI: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Bender, Sahin – Blaszczykowski, Kaawa, Grosskreutz – Barrios
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