In news that plenty of Borussia Dortmund fans will welcome, Emre Can was seen in full participation at the previous day’s training session after returning no positive COVID-19 tests.
Can, you will remember, has been in quarantine away from the club since his positive COVID test on October 23 (which feels like a lifetime ago). While Dortmund performed well in his absence, not allowing a goal in Bundesliga play since the 0-2 decision against Augsburg, Can’s aggressive presence and killer passing was definitely missed from the Dortmund backline.
It’s probably too early for Can to start on Saturday, but his return couldn’t have come at a better time. At any time in the previous month, Dortmund were without at least one of their three starting center-backs, and were forced to play someone (Piszczek, Delaney, even Witsel) out of position to compensate for that absence. We can analyze and argue Dortmund’s decision to not shore up their CB depth until we’re blue in the face, but they have handled it surprisingly well.
But with Der Klassiker in the immediate future for Dortmund, they’re going to need him or Mats Hummels - who’s own availability to return is up in the air - in that starting XI against the reigning European and German champions. While Akanji has been fantastic this season, he alone cannot contain Lewandowski, Muller, or any of the other dangersous scoring options Bayern possess. And while Pisz, Delaney and Witsel have been serviceable as emergency center-backs, neither of them are at the level of Can or Hummels in regards to the defense.
His return, however, brings new questions: Will Favre revert back to the 3-4-2-1 so he can fit all three center-backs? Will one of Manuel Akanji or Mats Hummels head to the bench once Can returns to full strength? Does he move into midfield for defensive cover? There are now many questions and options for Favre with Can’s return.
For now, welcome back to training Emre; we’re definitely going to need you on Saturday.