Our next opponents: Rollercoaster ride for BVB at start of the season

Bayer 04 versus Borussia Dortmund has often been spectacular in the past and a treat for football fans. Will it be similar on Saturday, 11 September (kick-off: 15.30 CEST)? Dortmund's start to the season might suggest that's on the cards.


Of course, Erling Haaland ensured that Borussia Dortmund went into the international break feeling good. With his late winner in the 3-2 victory over TSG Hoffenheim, the Norwegian striker helped BVB achieve their second win of the season and move up to fifth place in the table. The frenetic second half against TSG was a case of ups-and-downs – and that reflects the season to date for Dortmund. The comfortable DFB Cup win at Wehen Wiesbaden (3-0) and the opening impressive display against Eintracht Frankfurt (5-2) was first followed by a 3-1 defeat against FC Bayern in the Supercup and a disappointing 2-1 loss at Freiburg. Against Hoffenheim these highs and lows came together as an emotional rollercoaster ride in the second half where both the incredible individual quality of the Black and Yellows as well as certain difficulties were striking. "We've got lots of things we still want to talk about," declared coach Marco Rose after the game. "But when you win a game like this then you have the time and space to work on those things." You don't have to be a prophet to know: Rose and his staff will have done that during the international break.


Marco Rose attracted a familiar face to his team at the last moment. On the last day of the transfer window, BVB signed central defender Marin Pongracic on loan from VfL Wolfsburg. He previously played under Rose at RB Leipzig for two years. The new BVB coach knows what the Croat, born in Landshut, is worth – and Dortmund are in great need in his position as Rose has a lot of injuries to deal with in defence. Dan-Axel Zagadou, Mateu Morey and Emre Can are definitely sidelined and it is not yet certain that the full-backs Nico Schulz and Thomas Meunier will be available. There is good news for BVB with Mats Hummels: The key defender, who has not played this season due to a knee problem, returned to full training at the start of the week and he may make its first appearance of the season at the BayArena on Saturday alongside Manuel Akanji. Pongracic could play on the right side the defence if Meunier does not recover from the knock he suffered on international duty.

The injury list at BVB is not just full of defenders. Youngster Giovanni Reyna (thigh), captain Marco Reus (knee) und Thorgan Hazard (ankle) All returned early from their international duties. It remains to be seen whether the offensive players will appear against the Werkself but there are at least positive signs for Reus.


The young Dortmund team has immense potential – above all in attack. BVB have scored nine goals in the first three matchdays: That is equal top with the Werkself and FC Bayern. The departure of Jadon Sancho has not had a noticeable effect to date as the young Reyna and Jude Bellingham have shown more than a hint of their potential with the captain Reus acting as the creative source – and, of course, because Erling Haaland is Erling Haaland. The Norwegian striker has already been involved in six goals in the first three matchdays and he has developed his footballing ability in addition to his athleticism and power. It is almost impossible to close Haaland out for a complete game – and if that does happen then there would be space for other players. New signing Donyell Malen may play a bigger role in the coming weeks with his incredible pace.


The return of Hummels has been longed for by many people. Not just because of his presence and his ability to open up the game but also due to his strength in the air at set pieces. Dortmund have not really excelled in that area in this early part of the season. The Black and Yellows have conceded a goal from dead ball situations in each of the three Bundesliga games so far. Too many for a top team like BVB. Six goals against in three league matches is also reason for criticism as Sebastian Kehl, the director of the senior squad, recently made clear: "We obviously don't like that."


Hardly any teams in Europe have so much talent in their ranks as Borussia Dortmund. That means the team is extremely exciting – but also not easy to assess. A lot depends on how much highly talented players like Reyna, Bellingham and also the striker Youssoufa Moukoko develop. Haaland has definitely passed that point and he will be able to help Dortmund pick up lots of points. If the injury list shrinks quickly and the young players constantly fulfil their great potential then BVB could be in with a shout of a title challenge.

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