Borussia Dortmund make their return to the Champions League on Tuesday to face Ajax in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Both sides have taken all 6 points from their first 2 matches in Group C and are looking to maintain their perfect records in the competition.
BVB enter the contest both in fine form and carrying a ton of injuries. Though Everyone who played in the match against Mainz was able to travel to Amsterdam, 6 key players, including Mats Hummels, Erling Haaland, Julian Brandt, Nico Schulz, Manuel Akanji, and Thomas Meunier, missed the final training session before Tuesday. Presumably, they were rested for precautionary reasons, but with so many injured already, it’s a worrying bit of news. Fortunately for the black and yellows, Marco Rose has shown a knack for being able to cobble together a squad of healthy players each game this season and at least give them a chance of winning.
However, Ajax should present a significant challenge to Rose’s side, as the Eredivisie powerhouse has been incredibly well-rounded in all competitions this season. In attack, Dusan Tadic, Steven Berghuis, and Sebastian Haller have put up ridiculous numbers in the early stages of the year. Brazilian wonderkid Antony has started slower than his attacking counterparts, but he is still an obvious threat on running up the right wing alongside superstar right back Noussair Mazraoul. In defense, young center backs Jurrien Timber, and Lisandro Martinez have conceded a grand total of 3 goals in the league and Champions League. BVB will need to have a spectacular all-around performance to keep the Amsterdam club from giving them trouble on Tuesday.
Operating under the assumption that those who were withheld from training on Monday are all healthy, I would expect a line-up quite similar to the one we saw over the weekend. Axel Witsel gets the nod over Emre Can purely because Can played for nearly 90 minutes for the first time since coming back from his long-term injury. Other than that, the squad that played against Mainz gave us the most consistent 85 minutes of the season, and I think it would be wise to keep it the same.
Ajax’s defense has shone so far this season, but against an attacking side as strong as Borussia Dortmund, that reputation will be put to the test. I expect this match to be an absolute goal-fest, with both sides struggling to maintain control of the game for long periods of time. I’ll hope for some excitement and say it’ll be a 3-3 draw.