Derbies are special games. Football is full of special derbies; Manchester United and Liverpool, Boca Juniors and River Plate, Real Madrid and Barcelona. In Germany, one of the biggest derbies of the season is usually Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach. Dortmund go into this one having still not conceded as of yet in the league this season – that’s 450 minutes, or 7 and a half hours, of football without having the ball out of the net. Gladbach, on the other hand, have had some patchy early season form. Having initially won their first two games of the season, their 2-0 win at home to VfB Stuttgart on Tuesday was a welcome break to a run of three games without a win.
Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking will have been pleased to end his sides winless streak during midweek, although it wasn’t widely seen as a crisis. The man who made the difference for Gladbach, and the man who Dortmund will have to be wary of today, was Raffael and Hecking was well aware of the importance of the Brazilian’s importance to his side. “Raffael is an exceptional player who has got a bit of confidence back thanks to his two goals against Stuttgart. He’s one of those players who’s a difference maker. I’m hoping that he can show that ability tomorrow against Dortmund, even though I know they won’t make it easy for him.” Hecking was also at pains to point out that he didn’t need reminding of the quality the opposition posed. “We have to do our best to slow down Dortmund’s attacking style of play,” he said. “On top of that we have to keep the ball as much as possible and be courageous. If we play behind the ball too much we’ll run into problems. Even if Dortmund pile on the pressure and make it hard for us early, it’s important that we still put our qualities on full display. Even though Dortmund play with a very high line and leave a lot of space in behind, they’re still yet to concede. That just goes to show that Peter Bosz’s system is working well.”
Gladbach have a couple of injury worries going into this one. Christoph Kramer sustained a head wound during the Tuesday’s encounter with Stuttgart and trained individually. Also training on their own were former BVB man, Jonas Hoffmann, and Kwame Yeboah, who have both been recent victims of muscle problems. Raul Bobadilla, goal hero Raffael and Nico Elvedi all completed weight training in the week in a bid to recover fully in time for this game. One man likely to miss out is Yann Sommer. He has been suffering from a twisted knee so Tobias Sippel is likely to start at Signal Iduna Park. Also definitely missing the game will be Ibrahima Traore, Mamadou Doucoure and Enzo Grifo, although the latter is close to a return.
Germany have been full of plaudits for BVB lately as the Peter Bosz era has got off to a great start. BVB are yet to beaten this season domestically and have conceded three goals in all competitions, all coming in their Champions League defeat at Wembley to Spurs. It hasn’t gone unnoticed upstairs at Signal Iduna Park either, with Michael Zorc clearly happy with the performance midweek against Hamburg. “As the match progressed, we managed to carve out good opportunities time and time again. We should have scored one or two goals more in the first period. In the second half, we showed a lot of quality in the final third and got the goals at the right time,” he said.
Roman Burki has also had his say on the team’s recent good form, believing team spirit is playing a big part. “We’ve shown all the people who said before the season that we’re too attack-minded that that’s not the key factor – the key for us is that every player knows what they have to do,” said the Swiss goalkeeper, ” thanks to the whole team and the entire staff, we’re a big team in terms of our defensive performance, and we’re always good for a goal at the other end.”
During yesterday’s press conference, the boss wasn’t able to give us any news on team selection or injury updates yet – as his team had had a day off on Thursday and he hadn’t spoken to any of them yet. Therefore it is unknown at this time if Jeremy Toljan, Mario Gotze and Marc Bartra will be fit to return for today’s game.
This is a massive game in the seasons of both teams. Records and recent form go out of the window when derbies come around, and this is no different. Gladbach have been inconsistent, to say the least, this season and Dortmund will be looking to continue their winning form. Many agree that that is likely to happen.