Well, I’ve recovered from my latest case of Tottenham-induced existential horror, which means it’s time for me to jump right back in with Borussia Dortmund. The bees are fresh off of another disappointing result in the Bundesliga against Werder Bremen. The fan base is agitated, the players are frustrated, and the front office is hardly exuding confidence. BVB need to start racking up the results before the season becomes a lost cause. Luckily, BVB won’t have to face Bayern Munich or Barcelona, but the slightly less domineering leaders of the Czech First League, Slavia Prague.
For those of you who aren’t exactly up-to-date on the intricacies of Czech football, I’ve compiled an extensive list of fun facts about Slavia Prague:
- The club was founded in 1892 by students of a nearby medical school in the Vinohrady District of Prague.
- Their english-language Twitter account has exactly 4,000 followers. Well, 4,001 now that I’ve followed them.
- Their biggest league rivals are their cross-city rivals Sparta Prague, but right now, their biggest competitors in the league are Victoria Plzen.
- Slavia Prague’s leading goalscorer is the 33 year-old Milan Škoda, who has played for them since 2011.
That’s enough about Prague, though. BVB have gone winless in three, and have hardly inspired confidence in the process. Tomorrow’s match could be an important confidence boost if it goes well. If not, it could cast the club into further turmoil.
Unfortunately, BVB will have to deal with a few injuries to key players. Paco Alcacer has picked up an injury, meaning Mario Götze will, in all likelihood, have to lead the line. Nico Schulz is still injured, which means Achraf Hakimi will start on the left and Lukasz PIszczek will start on the right. Mats Hummels has traveled to Prague with the squad, but it’s unclear whether he will start. If not, Dan-Axel Zagadou seems like the most likely candidate to start in his place, with Julian Weigl having struggled at center back over the weekend.
With Lucien Favre having apparently lost any and all conceptions of the idea of squad rotation, we will probably see the same lineup of Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, and Julian Brandt in the attacking midfield. Hazard has slowly improved and has been one of the few bright spots over the past few weeks, Although he hasn’t yet scored, he’s registered three assists in his last four appearances in the Bundesliga. Julian Brandt and Marco Reus, on the other hand, have struggled a bit. While Reus scored against Bremen, Brandt hasn’t scored since his debut against Augsburg (although some of his buildup numbers have been better).
With Inter Milan and Barcelona facing each other tomorrow, BVB have a chance to establish a solid position in group F and create a clear path to the knockout stage. Slavia Prague are clearly not the strongest team in the world, but will be playing at home, and will probably be willing to play ugly to fight for every point available. BVB have dropped points to inferior opposition multiple times over the past month. Treating Prague lightly would be a big mistake.