After a run of five games without a win following an incredibly impressive start to life under Peter Bosz, BVB travel to VfB Stuttgart on Friday night looking to get back on track in the Bundesliga at least. Having been well and truly humbled at Signal Iduna Park by a resurgent Bayern Munich before the international break one would be forgiven for thinking that there is plenty of work to do with this team to return to their previous form. However, the raw materials are clearly there, as demonstrated earlier in the season when BVB got through the first ten games of the domestic season without conceding a goal.
The game will also be special for Stuttgart coach Hannes Wolf. He was youth coach for Dortmund for seven relatively successful years before moving to Stuttgart to take up their top job just over a year ago. He was in a nostalgic mood in yesterday’s press conference ahead of the game. “Of course it’s special for me. I am connected with the club and the city – I still know a lot of people there,” explained the VfB head-coach on Wednesday. As special as the tie may be though, the clash with his former employers is by no means overshadowing Hannes Wolf’s sporting focus. “Content-wise, we are preparing to face a good opponent. We will need a top-level performance to take anything from this one. It’s a massive challenge, that we are eager to rise to.”
Stuttgart will be buoyed by the return of their captain Christian Gentner. A number of facial fractures during a game against Wolfsburg in September ruled him out for nine weeks. While he will have to wear a protective mask for this game, it is likely that Gentner will feature tonight. Another selection boost for the home side comes in the form of Holger Badstuber, who returns following a short lay-off with a thigh injury. Santiago Ascacibar is also available after serving a one-match ban for reaching five bookings. Dzenis Burnic is unlikely to play though. Besides the fact he has a slight knee injury, which would probably have ruled him out anyway, Burnic will also serve a one-match ban of his own following his dismissal against Hamburg last time out.
In the other dugout tonight is Peter Bosz. He has every right to be a bit down regarding his team’s recent performances but was far from that in Thursday’s press conference. “I’m feeling optimistic, because we’ve been able to train properly,” said the Dutchman, adding: “We were able to train with 12 or 13 players over the international break, not with just four or five. Both defensive and offensive manoeuvres have been rehearsed. Stuttgart are solid defensively and give away few opportunities,” said Bosz of BVB’s opponents. “It’s not going to be easy. We will only be successful if we perform as a real team and implement our style of play one hundred percent.”
Aside from his obvious good mood going into this game, Bosz will be pleased with the clean bill of health his squad has been given. Lukasz Piszczek is still sidelined with an injury he picked up from the last international break, while Marco Reus, Sebastien Rode and Erik Durm remain long-term absentees. However, there have been no further casualties following the recent spate of international games, which will make the manager happy beyond belief given his side’s bad luck with injuries this season.
The odds are clearly in Dortmund’s favour. History tells us they have scored in each of their last 11 meetings with tonight’s opponents and have beaten them in six of the last seven. Although Stuttgart are unbeaten in their last 14 home games this calendar year, you have to fancy BVB for this one. The rot has to be stopped at some point. Borussia Dortmund have a squad of way too much quality for this bad patch to turn into a crisis. Where better to start than at the Mercedes Benz Arena tonight?