Borussia Dortmund returns from the international break to play Mainz 05 this Saturday. In classic BVB fashion, the squad returns with an excessive amount of injuries to key players. Raphael Guerreiro, Youssoufa Moukoko, Thorgan Hazard, and Manuel Akanji each left their international trips early due to injury, with Moukoko and Guerriero expected to miss an extended period of time. With so many players already injured prior to the break, this week will be a difficult one for Marco Rose in terms of team selection.
Fortunately, one player that does appear to be returning from injury is Erling Haaland. The Norwegian is reportedly fit enough to play on Saturday, and if that's the case, don't be surprised if he slots right back into the starting 11. Goals have been harder to come by for the black and yellows in his absence, and with Malen still struggling to find his shooting boots, Rose may have to rush Haaland back into the side. He almost certainly won't be able to play the full 90 minutes, but having him in from the start will give the Dortmund attack the fire it's been missing.
Dortmund's attack strengthening, unfortunately for Mainz, coincides with a few injuries to their key defensive players. Dortmund transfer target Jeremiah St. Juste dislocated his shoulder 20 minutes into Mainz's previous match against Union Berlin, making him a serious doubt for tomorrow. Defensive Midfielder Dominik Kohr will also miss the game due to suspension. Both players have started in five of their club's seven matches this season, which means manager Bo Svensson will have to re-shuffle his defense against the imposing Dortmund attack. With the return of Haaland, it will undoubtedly be an uphill battle for the carnival club, but as we all know, Mainz managers tend to be quite good at pulling a rabbit out of their hat when needed. Let's just hope Svensson doesn't on Saturday.
Due to the sheer amount of injuries the side is facing at the moment, predicting the Dortmund line-up against Mainz is less of a crapshoot when it comes to personnel. There are a few wild cards that Marco Rose could pull, such as starting Ansgar Knauff or Reinier Jesus, but if Haaland is healthy, I believe those moves would be detrimental to the team's success. We could also see a 3-4-3 system that swaps Emre Can for Marius Wolf and Julian Brandt for Marin Pongraric, but playing three center backs against Mainz's one-striker system would unnecessarily remove a creative player from the side. Having said all of this, I don't think I've ever predicted Marco Rose's team selection correctly, so don't be surprised when this turns out to be way off base.
If this match were at Mainz, I could see it being a close affair, but with it being at the Westfalenstadion and featuring a newly healthy Erling Haaland, it's going to be a pretty comfortable win. There will, of course, be some defensive miscues from Dortmund, just as we've seen all season, but the attack should be able to make up for them. I predict a 3-1 Dortmund win.