Play the anthem! Whip out the hideous jerseys! It’s Champions League season once again for the Black and Yellows, and after a difficult charge to quality at the end of last season, Dortmund can now settle in for another challenging UCL campaign. They begin this week against their first group C opponent, Beşiktaş. AFC Ajax and Sporting CP will face off in the other match, and we will begin to see how this qualifying group is going to shape up.
Dortmund are coming off of a thrilling 4-3 victory against Bayer Leverkusen, where a suspect midfield performance was hidden under a slew of goals to lift BVB past their opponent. It will be interesting to see how Marco Rose responds to the obvious shortcomings in the game this past weekend, and all eyes will be on BVB frontman and UCL Forward of the Season Erling Haaland to continue his antics.
Beşiktaş currently sit atop the Superlig, having collected 10 points from a possible 12. The Turkish outfit have added some firepower to their ranks in the offseason, including Miralem Pjanic (loan from FC Barcelona), Alex Texeira (back from China), and former Dortmund star man Michy Batshuayi (on his 4,000th loan from Chelsea). They have also retained the services of center back Domagoj Vida. If you, like me, thought Beşiktaş would be rolling out a lineup of players you had never heard of, think again. Look for Batshuayi to pose a threat up top, flanked by the pacey and clinical Alex Teixeira. The Turkish outfit have rolled out a variety of formations in the start to the season, so it is anyone’s guess how they will take the field against BVB.
The Home Team
Dortmund will still be without Emre Can and Gio Reyna as their more recent absentees. Mats Hummels is expected to return to the starting line-up for this UCL clash. It is unlucky for new boy Marin Pongračić to drop to the bench after his performance at the weekend, but a Champions League debut only a few days after his first appearance is a lot of pressure for a new signing.
Expect something very similar to the line-up against Leverkusen, although I expect Doyell Malen to return to the starting lineup alongside Erling Haaland. Axel Witsel will more than likely be dropped to accommodate him, after a poor game at the weekend.
Dortmund did it the hard way to qualify for this season’s UCL, and they need to lay down a marker showing that they do not intend to be bullied again. They have been handed one of the easier groups, and need to approach it with the mentality that they are going to win it. That does not mean taking their opponents for granted, as they often have in the past, but putting in a professional 90 minutes in each game. The onus falls on players like Reus, Hummels, and even Haaland to keep the team focused.
I am predicting a 3-1 victory for BVB in Instanbul. Dortmund have shown they are still suspect at the back, so I am not ready to count on a clean sheet, but there is no reason Dortmund cannot take the bull by the horns and make this game their own.
Get a load of this guy. HE is ready to score some UCL goals.