The boys take on Eintracht Frankfurt today in the pleasant winter climes of Dubai. Here are three things to watch for in the training match:
1. Will form carry over for either team?
This being a training camp for both teams, no one is expecting either to be gunning for glory like the league depends on it. The biggest goals for both teams will be getting a bit of fitness back after the winter break, letting players reform any chemistry they might have lost, and getting out of the Middle East without any pulled hamstrings or tweaked ankles. However, fans for both sides will be interested in the form displayed. Eintracht had an abysmal end to the first half of the season. They followed scoreless draws against Bayern and Hoffenheim with four straight losses, including a 4-1 thrashing at Signal Iduna, and all this in addition to being bounced from the DFB Pokal by third-division Erzgebirge at the end of October. A little light shone in for Frankfurt as they came away winners against Werder Bremen to finish the first half of the season, but the club remains in 14th place in the Bundesliga table, only a handful of points above the drop zone. BVB, on the other hand, has enjoyed a solid start to the season (a positively stupendous start considering the first half of 2014/15). They see themselves sitting in second place in the league, taking nine of twelve points in their last four fixture before the break. Mediocre European form aside, Dortmund ride into the second half of the season on a high. Will Eintracht show bite or desperation? Will Dortmund come out strong, or complacently? Seeing how each team takes to the field might provide a little indication of what's to come. Bayern are eight points clear at the top, and it will take a sterling run to overtake them. Time to see what this BVB team is made of.
2. Marco, Polo
BVB welcomed Marco Reus back into the training fold after being out with a groin strain for almost a month, suffered against Eintracht Frankfurt in December. Reus's importance is widely-known, but can't really be overstated: when Marco Reus is at his best, BVB's attack is a force to be reckoned with. That said, it will be interesting to see whether or not Reus gets a run-out against Eintracht in Dubai. No one wants Tuchel to rush Reus back, and if he's not ready to go, he shouldn't be used, but the thought of him running out on the field again must be tempting. If Reus is fit enough to play some part against Eintracht, chances are good he'll be back for the Gladbach match, and that is good news indeed.
3. Let the Kids Play
Between news of Reus's return and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's coronation as African player of the year, it's easy to forget about BVB's prolific youth pipeline. The academy has been slightly quieter in recent years, with academy graduates playing first team parts, but no true superstars being born. That could change with the promotion of U19 team members Felix Passlack and Christian Pulisic to first team training in Dubai, rumored to be a permanent move. Both players are just seventeen years old and led Germany and the United States, respectively, at last fall's U17 World Cup. Integral in last season's U17 squad winning the German B-Youth Championship, both Passlack and Pulisic are exciting midfielders to watch. Their inclusion in the Dubai roster is news enough, but many BVB fans will be keen to see if the youngsters get some time on the pitch against Frankfurt, and where the two stack up in the more punishing world of the senior Bundesliga. BVB's return from the dead to win back-to-back Bundesliga championships in 10/11 and 11/12 was built on the back of Jurgen Klopp's youth movement. Here's to two new faces continuing that tradition, possibly beginning in Dubai.