It is now two months since Peter Bosz was shown the door at Signal Iduna Park and Peter Stoeger walked through it. Bosz left the club without a league win in three months and languishing 8th in the table. There were highlights to his reign though and the 3-0 win in Hamburg in mid-September was one of those. It was one of those games where everything came together for Dortmund and we ran out deserved winners on the night. Since then HSV have made a managerial change themselves, bringing in Bernd Hollerbach for Markus Gisdol. Much has changed since these two last met.
The introduction of Hollerbach to the Volskparkstadion has seen a slight upturn in fortunes. This is his third game in charge of his new side and they are yet to lose, picking up draws against Hannover and Red Bull Leipzig respectively. The former Wurzberger Kickers boss seems to have given this formerly flimsy side their confidence back and they are going to need it – they currently sit 17th in the Bundesliga table, seven points off Mainz in the relegation play-off place and level on points with rock-bottom Cologne.
The new boss knows that his side are up against it going into this game today. “It’s clear that Dortmund are a big threat going forward.” He continued, “but I’ll always say that everyone has a chance in every game. We have to be disciplined like we were in Leipzig, but still be ambitious going forward and calm when we have possession. It’ll most likely play out in a similar way to the game in Leipzig.” And he has every right to think positively given Dortmund’s ineptitude against lesser sides at home this season. It was only a couple of weeks back that Wolfsburg came to Westphalia and left with a point from a goalless draw, and, in December, Werder Bremen were in Hamburg’s position in the table yet won 2-1 against BVB.
Hollerbach faces a couple of selection issues ahead of today’s fixture though. Firstly, he has to decide whether influential midfielder Walace will play or be given time off. Walace’s wife is expected to give birth imminently in Brazil and while Hollerbach agreed that his talisman should be there, he has said that that is some time off yet and Walace is in contention to start today. Kyriakos Papadopoulos will certainly miss out though following his sending off in the closing stages of last Sunday’s draw with Hannover. Bjarn Thoelke is still not fit enough to play after recently returning to training from injury and Nicolai Muller is still recovering from damaged cruciate ligaments.
With it still being too early to tell whether the change in the hotseat has paid off for our opponents, it is fair to say that things are working out much better for Peter Stoeger and Borussia Dortmund. Having lost just one game since walking into the dugout at Signal Iduna Park, it’s fair to say that Hans-Joachim Watzke and Michael Zorc have been justified in their decision to relieve Peter Bosz of his duties in early December and replace him with the Austrian.
Stoeger himself commented on his team’s improvement under his stewardship, saying in his press-conference yesterday that he was “feeling in a positive mood. I have the impression that things are getting better and better. I believe we’re on the right track.” The boss spent little time talking about todays game though and chose instead to update the visiting media on the fitness of his squad. Good news was abound however, with Stoeger informing everyone that Marco Reus was nearing full fitness. He said that Reus is keen to play some part here but that next week’s trip to Gladbach could be a more realistic target for him. That would be the only piece of good news though, with Mario Gotze and Marcel Schmelzer still some way off fitness, and while Maxi Phillipp has returned to training he too is still a while away from a return. The injuries really do seem to be mounting up now for BVB, with Jadon Sancho (ankle ligaments), Erik Durm (torn lateral collateral ligament), Dmitry Yarmolenko (tendon damage) and Raphael Guerreiro (muscular problems – vague to say the least) also ruled out.
The stage is now set for Borussia Dortmund to play their 500th top flight home game in a fixture which the highest scoring in Bundesliga history. There have been 361 goals in the previous 101 league games between the pair and BVB have won seven of our last nine home games against Hamburg. With Hamburg also winless in nine games the omens certainly look to be in our favour going into this one. But when have omens ever meant anything? We have been here before – clear favourites against so-called ‘lesser’ opposition and have been on the wrong end of the result. What better time to set that little record straight.