After three long, long, months, competitive football is back for Borussia Dortmund, in the first round of the DFB Pokal. It’s the start of a new chapter for BVB: the first competitive game for Marco Rose, the first for Donyell Malen, and the first game in Dortmund’s quest to defend it 2020-21 DFB Pokal title. Every journey begins with a single footstep, and tomorrow, Dortmund’s journey will begin against Wehen Wiesbaden of the 3. Liga.
As always, no win is guaranteed and Marco Rose and company should absolutely take Wiesbaden seriously tomorrow, but there’s also no reason why BVB shouldn’t come out firmly on top. SV Wehen finished in 6th place in the 3. Liga and haven’t gotten off to a good start this season, drawing their first two games, and BVB have been decent in their friendlies so far, so there really is no excuse, despite some of the injuries that BVB has suffered over the last few weeks.
The season hasn’t even begun, and a significant chunk of Dortmund’s squad is already injured and/or afflicted by COVID-19. This list includes Mats Hummels, Emre Can, Raphael Guerreiro, Julian Brandt, and Thomas Meunier. This means that BVB will need to pull in some of their young guns, such as center backs Lennard Maloney or Antonios Papadopoulos, and maybe Felix Passlack at right back as well. Nico Schulz will probably get a final appearance before he gets shipped out. In midfield we could see Tobias Raschl too: it has the makings of a U-23 match more than anything - except, with Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, and Donyell Malen leading the line!
Is this going to be the lineup? Who knows?!
The one thing we know is that with Haaland and Malen in the squad, two center forwards who play primarily vertically and can support one another with interchanging runs, Marco Rose will want to implement a 4-4-2, or 4-1-2-1-2, or whatever you want to call it, with some sort of diamond in midfield with the two strikers in a tandem at the top of the lineup. Just like last season, Jude Bellingham can sit deeper (not quite a #6), or if he isn’t comfortable in a holding position, Axel Witsel can play there as well. The back line, the aforementioned back line of misfit toys, will hopefully not be troubled too much by a third tier side.
They key for tomorrow will be to avoid an upset, and the best way to avoid an upset is to score an early lead and snuff the game out before it even really begins. The longer Wiesbaden go without conceding, the more confident they will get, and the more likely they will be to grab a dirty goal off a corner kick. Get on the scoreboard early, force them to come out and take advantage of their exposed back line, and the rest should take care of itself.