Since the last time we played APOEL a couple of weeks ago we are still without a win in the Bundesliga. It was the Bundesliga game before the disappointing 1-1 in the Cypriot capital which saw BVB lose their 41 game unbeaten run and the end of our near-perfect start to the 2017/18 season. A positive result needs to come from somewhere soon. It was meant to be against APOEL the last Champions League game, a result which finally would have seen three points on the board for Bosz’s boys in Europe., Alas we were left frustrated and the search for a first continental win of the season continues in tonight’s game.
APOEL have gone a sticky patch of their own since their relatively successful night against Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago. Having been beaten 3-1 in Larnaca by AEK, they had their home match with Apollon Limassol postponed before drawing 1-1 with Achnas at the weekend. They are likely to field a similarly strong side to which faced Dortmund last time the two sides met
Saturday’s defeat in Hannover was one that not many saw coming. After the game, Peter Bosz was uncharacteristically critical of his players. “Hannover deserved to win, they played with aggression from the beginning. When we’re on good form, lots and lots of space opens up for our quick strikers. In the first-half, in particular, we played badly, we weren’t aggressive enough and our build-up play was too slow. I’ve just learned what this means today. The penalty, the red card – could be. I don’t believe in sticking points. We need to take the blame. We did not perform well today; Hannover did put in a very good performance and so they deserved to win. If we don’t lose the simple balls, as we did today before their second goal, if we’re solid and if we apply pressure, then it’s no problem whatsoever to play with a high line.” He went on, “They weren’t details today. Aggression is not a detail. It must always be present. Details are smaller things which I discuss with the players.”
He has every right to be annoyed. The performance was simply the worst BVB have exhibited this season. If Bosz could then he would certainly ring the changes tonight. His squad might be in shape too soon enough with more players returning from the treatment table week on week now. There appear to be no doubts on personnel going into this one, although Marco Reus, Lukasz Piszczek, Sebastien Rode and Erik Durm all remain long-term absentees. Despite being sent off at the weekend Dan-Axel Zagadou is looking likely to retain his place at the heart of the defence alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Raphael Guerreiro looks set to continue his comeback from injury in the centre of midfield and is likely to be partnered by Mario Gotze, as Bosz looks to launch an assault on APOEL in an attempt to finally claim that elusive win. That leaves a plethora of talent to possibly come off the bench if the game isn’t going Dortmund’s way, including Christian Pulisic, Shinji Kagawa, Mahmoud Dahoud and Andre Schurrle. Peter Bosz does have some cause for concern though. Julian Weigl and Jeremy Toljan are a yellow card each away from suspension, which could influence the manager’s team selection.
Sometimes you just need a gimme. You need that one game to come along at the right time to just give your team that pick-me-up they need. A bad run of results can happen at any time of the season and perhaps it is better to get it out of the way in October than to stumble across this problem come April when important games are coming thick and fast. Poor runs like this also have the potential to snowball if not remedied quickly. Peter Bosz needs an APOEL at home right now. BVB need a positive result and performance. We all need this win to give us some hope of qualifying for the next round of the Champions League and keep our dreams of European glory alive for this season at least.