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Preview: Dortmund Face Struggling Legia in Champions League Opener

In their Champions League opener, Dortmund should rebound against a struggling Legia team


Considering Dortmund's struggles, they'll be happy to kick off their Champions League campaign away to possibly the weakest team in the competition, Legia Warsaw from Poland.

The Polish side qualified for the Champions League in the most unconvincing of fashions, having to go through three qualifying rounds to earn their place. After beating Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostak 3-1, they narrowly escaped Slovakian side Trencin 1-0, then secured their place in the group stage by staving off the Irishmen Dundalk by a 3-2 score (all scores on aggregate).

Legia's struggles have been ever-present in the Polish Ekstraklasa too, sitting in 13th place out of 16 teams after eight games, despite winning the league last season with plus 30 goal difference. The club hired former Anderlecht manager Besnik Husi in the summer, and things have started out on a dreadful note. Key midfielder Ondrej Duda left for Hertha in the summer, but top goalscorer and player of the season Nemanja Nikolic stayed at the club.

Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

Along with the departure of Duda, Legia have been held back by some injuries. Defender Michal Pazdan and midfielder Michael Kucharczyk are both out injured, while summer signings Vako Qazaishvili, Miroslav Radovic, and Jakub Czerwinski have yet to make their expected impacts. This Champions League match up is unlikely to take a backseat to Legia, as the club is very proud to qualify for the first time since 1996.

Dortmund have not had the best of starts to the season either, with two disappointing performances against Mainz and Leipzig. In the absence of Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the Manchester clubs, Dortmund have found creativity in attack to be a scarce resource. The Legia match offers Dortmund a good chance to turn things around, and likely introduce Raphael Guerreiro in the starting line-up.

The quality of our opponents should give manager Thomas Tuchel the liberty to make a few changes in the team or try a few experiments. Lukasz Piszczek looked miserably out of form against Leipzig in the right back position, the position Felix Passlack had previously been occupying this season. Passlack should get his spot back, and the Kicker predicted line-up has Matthias Ginter starting rather than Marc Bartra. Bartra and Sokratis have played in every competitive game for Dortmund thus far, and one of the two could see a break against Legia. Ginter has similar ball playing skills to Bartra as a center back, making the Spaniard the more likely to have a rest.

With Legia unlikely to press in the same way Leipzig did so effectively, Dortmund will have a much easier time in the midfield. It is lining up to be the perfect game for Raphael Guerrerio to start in the midfield with Weigl. The Portuguese man looked significantly better playing against the press in his 20 minute cameo than Rode did in 70 minutes, and it'd be very surprising if Tuchel did not take this chance to get him more action in the team. Weigl suffered a broken nose late in the Leipzig game, but should be good to go against Legia with a face mask.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Gonzalo Castro is another player who performed dreadfully against Leipzig, and could see either Ousmane Dembele or Christian Pulisic start in his place. Dembele specializes in embarrassing defenders but has yet to show any end product, while Pulisic scored twice last year and could also be an effective player against Legia. Either player seems like a better choice than Gonzalo Castro on the wing.

This is a game Dortmund should win comfortably and boost their confidence. Despite the recent struggles, this is one of the easiest Champions League match ups that Dortmund could have gotten, and use this opportunity to collect themselves and kick their season into gear.

Predicted Line-Ups:

Legia: Malarz, Broz, Czerwinski, Rzezniczak, Hlousek, Moulin, Ofoe, Guillherme, Radovic, Langil, Nikolic

Dortmund: Bürki, Passlack, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer, Weigl, Guerreiro, Dembélé, Götze, Schürrle, Aubameyang