The easyCredit-Stadion on Saturday afternoon hosts Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund against the home side, 1. FC Nürnberg, two sides that were victorious on the opening matchday.
FCN kicked their season off with a great 1-0 away win over Hamburg, where Skipper Raphael Schäfer was in inspiring form, keeping Der Club in the contest, before Hanno Balitsch put away the only goal from a couple yards out. And Schäfer will need to continue that great form against a Dortmund side that picked up where they left off last year.
Japanese youngster Hiroshi Kiyotake also impressed in his Bundesliga debut, after a lively Olympics campaign with the Blue Samurai. The attacking midfielder will be one of Nürnberg’s key players and look to link up with striker Sebastian Polter, and wide men Alexander Esswein and Mike Frantz.
Meanwhile BVB had to rely on a late Mario Gӧtze strike to overcome Werder Bremen 2-1, after Theodore Gebre-Selassie cancelled Marco Reus’s early opener. Reus was in brilliant form, connecting well with Poles, Kuba and Robert Lewandowski, while Skipper Sebastian Kehl was solid in midfield and played like he had never left his hometown club.
These two last met last February in sub-zero conditions where Dortmund ran out 2-0 winners, Kehl and the departed Lucas Barrios were the scores on that day. And that same score was repeated last August, where Dortmund were 2-0 winners once again, this time though, Lewandowski and Kevin Grosskreutz were on the scoresheet.
And that score line could be repeated again, as in fact the last four Bundesliga fixtures have finished 2-0 in favour of BVB. Dortmund’s record against Der Club doesn’t stop there, as BVB have won every competitive fixture against FCN with Jürgen Klopp in charge. One would have to go back five years to find the last time Nürnberg beat Dortmund, back in 2007, of course that was also a 2-0. Overall the two sides have met 60 times in the Bundesliga with Dortmund winning 30 of those matches, drawing 17 and losing 13.
Die Schwarzgelben will look to continue an unbeaten streak that goes back all the way to 2011 in the league. Suffice to say, Nürnberg are going to be in for a tough fixture. This fixture though, won’t be the first time these two have battled this season, as Nürnberg defeated Dortmund 4-2 in preseason in Marek Mintal’s testimonial game, on a hot German summer’s day. Both sides though were missing key players, after the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
And FCN Coach Dieter Hecking understands that Dortmund will be a different side from pre-season.
We’re expecting a completely different opponent from the one we beat in pre-season. But you have a chance to win in every game”, said Hecking.
And Hecking realises his side needs to play their best against the German Champions.
We want to do all we can to try and pick up three points in Nürnberg. Everyone has to go the extra mile so that we can play beyond our limits. We can’t give our opponents too much respect.
Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp noted Nürnberg’s performance against Hamburg last weekend and believes the hosts are in form.
They won more tackles, had more shots, covered more distance. They are, unfortunately, on a roll.
Klopp continued to say that his side need to improve after scraping past Werder Bremen.
Each player knows the areas to improve on. We are all awake and aware of the requirement to press the ball.
Nürnberg and Hecking should be unchanged from their defeat of Hamburg, but Frantz is in doubt after missing a training session during the week.
At least one change will be made to Klopp’s starting-eleven, with Lukasz Piszczek returning from injury replacing Oliver Kirch, who picked up a thigh strain. Serbian defender Neven Subotic is also in doubt with a back problem, but should be available for selection.
Potential Line ups:
1. FC Nürnberg: Schäfer- Chandler, Nilsson, Klose, Pinola- Balitsch, Simons- Kiyotake, Frantz, Esswein- Polter
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Gündogan, Kehl – Kuba, Reus, Grosskreutz – Lewandowski
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