Goal.com looks at Saturday's encounter between Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund with both sides keen to end 2010 with a victory...Skibbe's Men Looking To End 2010 On The Ultimate High
As half-term looms it's report card time in the Bundesliga. Launische Diva have been their usual inconsistent selves, beating the likes of Wolfsburg one week before slipping to defeat versus Koeln the next. Seven wins and seven losses have left Michael Skibbe's men in eighth position at the half-way mark; a respectable start with room still there for improvement. Surely deserving of a B+.
Frankfurt's final game of 2010 could very well prove to be their toughest test. The visit of Bundesliga runaway leaders Dortmund is highly anticipated in Hesse. However, die Adler will be without several key players including captain Chris who is likely to be replaced by the versatile American Ricardo Clark, who is rated highly by his boss.
"Ricardo has good technique and fierceness. He is also a little more agile compared to Kraus who is much larger. That could be an advantage against the swift and versatile Dortmund players," Skibbe told the club's website during the week.
The ex-Dortmund coach certainly has confidence in Clark and the rest of his squad and is looking forward to the crunch tie with Jurgen Klopp's men.
"With Borussia we will host the top Bundesliga team who are miles ahead, it is the last league game of the year in front of a sell out home crowd – we want to show a good performance."
Records On The Line For Wounded Dortmund
There is no doubt about it, Dortmund have had a phenomenal first half to this Bundesliga campaign. Die Schwarzegelben are 11 points clear at the top, winning an incredible 14 games from 16. Victory over Frankfurt would give Borussia 46 points, a record tally at the winter break.
So what's all this talk about Jurgen Klopp's men having to pick themselves up? Wednesday night saw the club exit European competition for this season when a 2-2 away draw to Sevilla condoned BVB to third place in the group.
To make matters worse, the manner in which Sevilla conducted themselves during the game infuriated Klopp and his men.
"There is a bitter aftertaste to this defeat. If experience in Europe means wasting time, then I don't want my team to learn something like that," Klopp told the media post-match.
"It was an embarrassing display from Sevilla. For such a great team to resort to such tactics is an embarrassment."
BVB will be hoping to turn their frustration from Wednesday's events into a record breaking victory over Frankfurt. A win will be the club's eighth in a row in the league, another club record.
If Dortmund are to earn yet another away win they could really do with star striker Lucas Barrios firing on all cylinders. The Argentinian-born hitman has only recently returned from injury and is still looking to find the form shown earlier on in the season. Against Frankfurt he has the perfect opportunity to deliver early Christmas presents to all Dortmund supporters.
The home side will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's defeat to Koelen but will have to do so without several key names. Marco Russ misses the game through suspension with Oka Nikolov also missing out with a foot injury. Chris continues his spell on the sidelines with a back problem so Ricardo Clark is likely to deputise. Other absentees include Maik Franz (Adominal surgery), Zlatan Bajramovic (hamstring), Sebastian Rode and Marcel Titsch-Rivero (both in light training).
Probable Starting XI: Faehrmann - Jung, Vasoski, Clark, Tzavellas - Ochs, Schwegler, Meier, Koehler, Altintop - Gekas
The Bundesliga leaders only have two players out for their visit to Frankfurt. Captain Sebastian Kehl will return to action in early 2011 after missing the last three months with a tendon tear. Patrick Owomoyela will also miss Dortmund's final game of 2010 with an injury to his achilles. Die Borussen are likely to make only one change from the side who drew 2-2 with Sevilla on Wednesday night. Kevin Grosskreutz is expected to replace Jakub Blaszczykowski on the wing.
Probable Starting XI: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Hummels, Subotic, Schmelzer - Sahin, Bender - Goetze, Kagawa, Blaszczykowski - Barrios