DFB Pokal holders Borussia Dortmund travel to Schwarzwald-Stadion, home of fellow Bundesliga club SC Freiburg, on Saturday to face sixth-tier side 1. FC Rielasingen-Arlen in the first step of their defense of the cup. Der BVB are overwhelming favourites for the tie against Arlen, who are appearing in the cup for the first time in the club’s brief 18-year history. The only question that is lingering in fans’ mind will be about the players who will be on the field for the Yellow-Blacks.
Most German fans would be forgiven to not have known or even heard of the existence of Rielasingen-Arlen, who finished 5th last year in the Verbandsliga Surbaden or the sixth-tier of the German football pyramid. The most iconic moment in the history of the club was the 6-1 demolition of VFR Hausen in the final of the South Baden Cup and that victory resulted in their first ever DFB Pokal appearance in the history of the club.
Dortmund come into the match after a penalty loss to Bayern in the Super Cup and with a lot of speculation regarding the future of wonderkid and budding superstar Ousmane Dembele. Dembele, who went AWOL from training, will not play in the game as the club suspended him for a week and fined him a week’s wages for his act of insubordination. The Super Cup loss saw the competitive debuts of Dan-Axel Zagadou, Mahmoud Dahoud and a late sub appearance for former Freiburg forward Maximilian Philipp. Peter Bosz is expected to give fringe players a run-in and see the depth of the squad for the match after some patchy form in the pre-season fixtures.
Dortmund are in the middle of an injury crisis with Marco Reus out for the rest of the year with a cruciate ligament injury and Raphael Guerreiro out until October with a foot injury. Julian Weigl won’t make his return until September either after an ankle fracture in May. The match won’t involve captain Marcel Schmelzer, Mario Gotze or Sebastian Rode, but they should return for the opening game of the Bundesliga season against Wolfsburg on 19th August. Erik Durm and Christian Pulisic are doubts for the game and the absence of the aforementioned Dembele.
This match will be a huge moment for Rielasingen-Arlen fans and players both, as they get to face a team with the reputation of Dortmund and we’ll get to see how stern can the sixth-tier side be when they face the burgeoning onslaught of the overpowered BVB side.