Competitive soccer is finally back! For the first time in several months, Borussia Dortmund will take to the pitch with a major trophy on the line. Every journey begins with a single footstep, and today, BVB’s journey towards the DFB-Cup begins against KFC Uerdigen 05, a third-division club from the city of Krefeld, about an hour’s drive from Dortmund.
Needless to say, Borussia Dortmund will be heavy favorites. Uerdigen only recently won promotion to the 3. Liga in 2017, and finished 11th out of 20 last season, hardly an impressive performance. BVB look ready to make a serious push for the Bundesliga title, and have already notched a major victory against Bayern Munich in the DFB Supercup. Despite these factors,However, miraculous first-round exits aren’t entirely out of the realm of possibility. Last season, Eintracht Frankfurt lost in the first round to SSV Ulm 1846, a Regionalliga Südwest club, an indication that anything can happen in the DFB Pokal.
There aren’t many reasons for Uerdigen to be optimistic. I suppose one could be that BVB will be without a couple key players. Roman Bürki and Julian Brandt are still nursing injuries and will be unavailable. However, it looks like the rest of the squad is healthy, so the only question remaining is which players Favre will start. Given the players available, I wouldn’t be surprised if Favre fields something like this:
Julian Weigl and Axel Witsel played well together as a midfield partnership in the Supercup against Bayern, so we could see them again. Alternatively, Favre could also field Thomas Delaney instead of Weigl, and have the Dane play a bit further up the pitch, something that played to varying levels of success last season.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3:0 KFC Uerdigen
... and I think that’s generous to Uerdigen. It’s hard to see this being anything other than a lopsided victory for Borussia Dortmund. BVB will be supremely confident following a resounding 2-0 victory against Bayern in the Supercup. Uerdigen’s best hope will likely be to engage in a West Brom-style strategy of blunt physicality and last-ditch defending. If BVB score early, we could easily see Dortmund running up the score. I expect at least a three goal victory, if not more.
That being said, anything can happen in the Pokal. It would be a mistake for BVB to tread lightly.