Time for another reaction

Match Preview

This has been something that has happened too often for BVB this season. There have been too many times that we have needed a reaction. The result against Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday night leaves our Europa League future hanging in the balance and win a by two clear goals is needed when we go to Austria for the return leg next week. Thus, here we are again, welcoming another team to Signal Iduna Park on the back of an unexpected defeat, needing a reaction. Not only is a reaction needed against Eintracht Frankfurt tomorrow, a performance and a result are absolutely necessary against the side one place below us in the table and equal to us on points.

Salzburg employed a compact and rigid style on Thursday night, something Niko Kovac is likely to emulate tomorrow. His Frankfurt side have drawn plaudits this season for their incisive attacking play and effective defence. The shrewd signings of Jetro Willems, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sebastien Haller have also been cause for praise for the former Bayern midfielder turned tactician. He has also been praised for the diverse nature of his team. At first, Eintracht fans struggled to relate to the mostly foreign XI fielded each week. However, football is a funny game and it’s extraordinary what a positive run of results can do for fan opinion. Kovac justified his choice at the time though. “This isn’t Brexit or Fraxit, we’re not concerned about politics – we play football. It’s about performing. Those doing best will play, regardless of their age, looks or whether they’re German or not. Our working language is German. Everyone is obliged to learn German. We speak other languages so we can help people at the start, but there’s also the language of football, and everyone speaks that on the pitch.”

Across the technical area sits Peter Stoeger. Having been appointed in early December, hastily so after only being sacked by former club Cologne a week earlier, it’s fair to say that Stoeger has had a quietly inconsistent start to life in Dortmund. From fourteen games he has won six and drawn as many, losing two along the way. Many would agree that things could be better, although, by the same token, they could also be worse. Everything that was bad about Dortmund during Stoeger’s short reign was brought to the fore during the game against Salzburg in midweek though and he knows it. “A game where the mistakes were coming from a lot of places and the tempo was too slow to break out of defence,” was how the Austrian described Thursday’s match, adding that it was “not the first time that we have had problems against teams who sit deeper and form lines across the back”.

One reason why Dortmund could have struggled against stubborn, counter attacking teams this season could be down to a defence which has been inconsistent in its selection. Raphael Guerreiro, Marcel Schmelzer, Omer Toprak, Jeremy Toljan and Lukasz Piszcszek have all suffered medium term injuries this season which have ruled them out for months at a time. The former is now back in training and is likely to return from a rest given to him in midweek. However, we are now obviously a centre half down following the sale of Marc Batra to Real Betis in January. There are also injury problems at the other end of the pitch as well with Shinji Kagawa ruled out. As far as Eintracht are concerned, their early season injury woes are now behind them. Their only absence comes in the shape of Omar Mascarell, who has a long standing injury.

Not only is this a massive game in the seasons of both sides, it is also a game which is usually a cert for a high score producing an average of 3.2 goals per game. In recent times the goals have mostly gone in Dortmund’s favour, as we have won each of the past six encounters against Sunday’s opponents and have not failed to score in twenty home games against them. The odds are seemingly in our favour and, with us being in the midst of a ten game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga, it appears only a fool would bet against Peter Stoeger’s men to get a result here. But this isn’t a normal BVB season. There have been as many ups as there have been downs this season and it would be just like Dortmund to lose this game. We should take Eintracht lightly at our peril. They are where they are for a reason and have become the neutrals choice for that.

A win is absolutely necessary here. No Excuses.