What happens when you take an injury-prone player and run him into the ground? He gets injured!
Marcel Sabitzer began life at BVB strongly, making the starting lineup in Dortmund’s first six competitive matches. Quite the baptism of fire for a new signing, but one would expect Sabitzer to settle in quickly, given his Bundesliga experience. Still, that was asking a lot of a new midfielder, and unsurprisingly, he picked up a strain.
Going forward, Terzic needs to be more careful with load management, because as Sabitzer showed with Austria, he can be a real difference maker.
In Austria’s two matches over the international break, they played Belgium and Azerbaijan. Sabitzer made the squad list despite coming off of an injury he sustained with Borussia Dortmund and returned as a substitute against the Belgians. In eleven minutes on the pitch, Sabitzer managed to convert a penalty and win all his tackles. In the following match, Sabi came on at halftime to collect the MOTM award, creating two chances, scoring one, and putting in a decent defensive performance.
Sabitzer’s return should be gradual, as it was with Austria. Ralf Rangnick did BVB a favor by not rushing Sabitzer back into the national team, and Terzic should continue to manage that load. Still, the Austrian’s return to availability presents a huge positive for the squad.
Since Sabitzer’s injury, Terzic has tinkered with the midfield quite a bit. The first six matches of the season not only had Sabitzer as a regular fixture, but Emre Can as well. Can has since fallen slightly out of favor, and the prospect of Sabitzer and Özcan running the double pivot is quite likely once the Austrian is ready to start.
Özcan’s more conservative style is better suited to shielding the defense and may also give Sabitzer more freedom to carry the ball forward, which has been lacking since Jude Bellingham’s departure. With Felix Nmecha failing to impress in the ball progression role, Sabitzer could slot back into his preferred spot and see greater success alongside Özcan. Working together with Brandt, Sabitzer has the chance to return to the eleven and solve some of BVB’s significant woes in attacking play development.
How soon we can realistically expect Sabitzer in the starting eleven remains to be seen. Terzic noted in his prematch press conference that Sabi is still in some pain, and alluded to his injury being a long term carry-over from Manchester. Once he is fit, Sabitzer could be the solution in midfield BVB fans were hoping for this summer.
Is Sabi a lock for the starting eleven once he is fully fit? What’s your preferred midfield trio for the remainder of the Hindrunde? Let us know in the comments.