It’s the battle of the Borussia’s this weekend as the Bundesliga season kicks-off for Dortmund and Mönchengladbach at the Signal-Iduna Park on Saturday evening.
A new era gets underway for the Schwarzgelben with Thomas Tuchel looking to quickly exercise the ghost of Jürgen Klopp and get the club back into the upper echelons of the league. Finding themselves rooted to the bottom of the table at times last season, BVB did succeed in staging a comeback to eventually achieve Europa League qualification.
This time around fans will be expecting to see their side make a much better start to the campaign- remember they conceded a goal to Karim Bellarabi and Leverkusen after just 9 seconds! Losing seven of their first ten games was also not what the BVB doctor ordered.
Dortmund have a decent record against die Fohlen and will have fond memories from last season’s equivalent clash, which saw the most bizarre of own goals from Christoph Kramer seal their win.
Mönchengladbach’s form in the second half of last season was enough to see them outperform both Bayern and Wolfsburg to top the Rückrunde table and clinch Champions League qualification.
Lucien Favre will be hoping to continue where they left off last season, but faces a tough opening fixture against a Dortmund side with something to prove. The loss of Max Kruse’s goals (11 last season) will be a miss, and fans will want to see Josip Drmic finally fulfil his promise as his direct replacement.
The Champions League cannot be allowed to distract Gladbach from the bread and butter of the Bundesliga and with Dortmund likely to be a direct competitor for a top-four finish points on Saturday for the visitors would send out an important message of intent.
Roman Bürki will get the nod in goal as Tuchel has to decide his first-choice keeper. New signing Gonzalo Castro impressed in the Cup victory over Chemnitzer FC and could keep his place in the starting XI. Neven Subotic, Kevin Großkreutz and Nuri Sahin all remain on the sidelines as they recover from injury.
Alvaro Dominguez is expected to be out for the Foals with a back problem for around two weeks. New loan signing from Chelsea Andreas Christensen could be set for his debut, while Lars Stindl and Josip Drmic should also make their Bundesliga bows for Gladbach. Martin Stranzl is on the sidelines with a thigh injury and Havard Nordtveit is suspended.
Bundesliga played: 86
Dortmund won: 29 Gladbach won: 29 Draws: 28
Last season: Dortmund 1 (Kramer o.g) Gladbach 0 (09/11/2014)
*BVB have lost only one of their last 14 home games with Gladbach.
The Armenian seems to have instantly hit it off with new coach Tuchel, who has described him as a pleasure to watch following his hat-trick in the Europa League against Wolfsberger AC. “Mkhitaryan is an absolute model professional. I’m very glad to have him in this team,” he said. “It’s a great pleasure for me to work with him and to watch him and see how he deals with his talent.”
Deployed on the left-side of attack, the 26-year-old has already chipped in with four goals and three assists in both DFB Pokal and Europa League.
Gladbach’s Swiss midfielder missed just four matches last season in the league establishing himself as a key member of Lucien Favre’s team. Dubbed the ‘young Schweinsteiger’ by his coach, the 22-year-old is a technically gifted midfielder who distributes the ball superbly while also possessing an aggressive tackling ability.
What they’re saying:
Thomas Tuchel: “We meet one of the most awkward and complicated teams that we could at the moment. We feel absolutely ready and we will have to be very attentive. No-one has to worry that on Saturday at 18:30 a training session will be taking place in the stadium.
“Roman Bürki will be in goal tomorrow. He will stay in goal for the Bundesliga season, Weidenfeller will be in goal for the EL qualifiers”.
Lucien Favre: “We’re looking forward to the league opener. In Dortmund we expect a very interesting game. I’ve watched BVB and we are ready. Dortmund varies between many different systems, and it is not easy- the games against them are always tight. The Bundesliga is our highest priority- even ahead of the Champions League”.
Borussia Dortmund 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach 1