The games are coming thick and fast following the international break and title contenders Borussia Dortmund face a trip to the Domstadt to face 1.FC Köln on Saturday with both Salih Özcan and Anthony Modeste set for a return to their old stomping ground.
The Schwarzgelben find themselves in second place after seven matches just two points behind surprise leaders Union Berlin and three ahead of Rekordmeister Bayern Munich. Edin Terzic takes his side to the Rhein-Energie Stadion this weekend looking to usurp Union at the top but knowing full well that a top performance will be required to beat the Billy Goats.
BVB come into the game off the back of their Revierderby win over Schalke and their courageous display against Manchester City in the Champions League. Defensively they have tightened things up, but injuries continue to plague the side with Edin Terzic not able to pick from his full complement of stars.
Köln’s last two Bundesliga outings saw them lose their unbeaten start to the season (1-0 loss to Union Berlin) and then become the first side to concede a point to bottom side VfL Bochum (1-1 draw). The comedic own goal that Jonas Hector and Benno Schmitz conjured up didn’t in the end cost Köln too much thanks to Linton Mainia’s late equaliser.
They welcome back (maybe welcome is a little strong) both Salih Özcan and Anthony Modeste, while Stefan Tigges comes up against his former Dortmund teammates. Marius Wolf, who has played such a vital role for BVB this season also returns to the club where he spent the 2020-21 season on a successful loan.
All of Köln’s national team players have returned unscathed, although Timo Horn, Mathias Olesen, Tim Lemperle, Jeff Chabot, and Sebastian Anderson all remain unavailable. Mark Uth would ordinarily not be considered after his eight-week injury lay-off, but a final decision is yet to be taken.
Possible line-up: Schwäbe, Schmitz, Kilian, Hübers, Hector, Ljubicic, Skhiri, Thielmann, Kainz, Tigges, Adamyan
The injury situation at BVB doesn’t show any sign of easing. In addition to the long-term injury absentees Sebastien Haller, Mahmoud Dahoud, Mateu Morey and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, the trio of Gregor Kobel, Gio Reyna and Marco Reus can now be added to the list.
Dortmund’s first-choice keeper could return next week but, in the meantime, Alex Meyer will continue to deputise. Giovanni Reyna picked up a muscle strain while on USMNT duty and is expected to be out for up to ten days.
Julian Brandt, Youssoufa Moukoko and Thorgan Hazard all returned from international duty prematurely and will be assessed on Thursday/Friday to see whether they can feature this weekend. Salih Özcan withdrew from the Turkey squad with a recurrence of the foot problem that forced him to miss the start of the season, so his inclusion seems doubtful. Mats Hummels has withdrawn from the matchday squad with through illness.
Possible line-up: Meyer, Wolf, Süle, Schlotterbeck, Gueirrero, Can, Bellingham, Brandt, Adeyemi, Malen, Modeste
What they’re saying:
Steffen Baumgart: “They have a high individual quality. They made good transfers, with players who have yet to internalize the current system. Dortmund also has problems with minor injuries this season. Despite this, they play consistently and solidly. Dortmund is very controlled and clear. What happened against Bremen happens once in ten years. Had they won the game, they would have been top of the table with 18 points.
“They are a top team. They are very good on defence and only allow a few chances to score. Especially on the wings they have a high quality. We know what to expect.
“Tony and Salih are both coming back to Cologne. I should be highly motivated in every game; it has nothing to do with Tony and Salih. That has to do with the fact that in Borussia Dortmund we have one of the best teams in Germany as guests. It would be nice to bring our own performance. That would be motivation enough.
“I am very happy to see both of them again. They are very good footballers who are very close to me personally and with whom I have worked very well. I’m happy about their path and hope that they will be greeted sensibly and that nobody will forget what they have done for FC.”
Edin Terzic: “We knew the fixture list would be very tight this year due to the World Cup. In the first weeks of pre-season, we wanted to lay the foundations and get ourselves in a good position for precisely this period.
“We’ll always try to reduce the strain and start the regeneration immediately. Rotation will consistently be a topic over the next weeks.
“Steffen Baumgart has stabilised the team. He repeatedly manages to make players better and create a greater self-belief. That’s their biggest strength. They’re very courageous and take big risks. They’re dangerous from set-pieces and have a great deal of possession. It’s going to be a tough task.
“I’m sure that we’ll produce another good performance on Saturday. And then we’ll have a big chance to win the match.”
18.09.22 VfL Bochum (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
15.09.22 FC Slovacko (h) 4-2 W (Conference League)
11.09.22 Union Berlin (h) 0-1 L (Bundesliga)
08.09.22 Nice (a) 1-1 D (Conference League)
03.09.22 VfL Wolfsburg (a) 2-4 W (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Schalke (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
14.09.22 Manchester City (a) 2-1 L (Champions League)
10.09.22 RB Leipzig (a) 3-0 L (Bundesliga)
06.09.22 FC Copenhagen (h) 3-0 W (Champions League)
02.09.22 Hoffenheim (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture last season at the Rhein-Energie Stadion saw the two sides play out a 1-1 on matchday 27. Marius Wolf scored an early goal against his former club only for Sebastian Andersson to equalise before half-time.
The point saw Dortmund’s challenge for the title take another blow as leaders Bayern kept their lead at the top of the table at six points.
Players to watch:
There are a number of players who go under the radar somewhat despite consistently playing at a very high level and contributing massively to their teams, The stats show their importance, but the unspectacular nature of their play doesn’t always grab the headlines.
In Köln’s case Ellyes Skhiri fills this role. His importance cannot be overstated, and it is only in his absence that his role is fully appreciated.
Anthony Modeste’s exit from Köln for the second time to chase a big payday didn’t go down well and he is sure to get a ‘special’ welcome back to the Rhein-Energie Stadion despite a plea from Steffen Baumgart for leniency.
He is lucky to be starting at all and only a neck injury to derby hero Youssoufa Moukoko has potentially stopped him being dropped. He has not impressed since joining BVB, but a goalscoring return to his old club would go some way to winning over the doubters and naysayers.