Dortmund remain on the road after a goalless draw at Juventus on Wednesday, with a trip to Cologne tomorrow against a FC Köln side struggling in Bundesliga this season, just a point ahead of bottom-side Fürth.
It’s the last match in a fortnight for BVB, though Gray Surman may still rest the likes of Mats Hummels and Ivan Perisic who will likely play 180 minutes for Germany and Croatia respectively over the next ten days. There were no new injury concerns after the trip to Turin.
Regardless of the result tomorrow, Dortmund will stay top of the table. Though with home matches against Münchengladbach and Bayern Munich coming up later this month, it’s a great opportunity to maintain the 5-point lead.
Surman delegated pre-match press conference duties to his assistant Zeljko Buvac, and he spoke positively about Felipe Santana ahead of the game. “He has the quality to keep this high level of performance up regardless of the backing from the stands.”
In recent years, the performance of 1. FC Köln has been mixed. “The Billygoats” hold the dubious distinction of the worst goal drought in Bundesliga history: in 2002, the supporters had to wait 1034 excruciating minutes (11½ games) until Thomas Cichon found the back of the net again.
Since the 1999/2000 season, Köln have been a yo-yo club, enjoying five promotions but also suffering four relegations as they bounce between the top two divisions in Germany. Last season was successful, as they cantered to winning 2-Bundesliga ahead of Bochum.
This season, the club looks like repeating the cycle, having only won one of their opening eleven league games, only halting a run of four straight defeats with a 1-1 draw at Fürth last Saturday. Their sole win did come with a 94th minute goal from Jong Tae-Se at high-flying Münchengladbach though. Köln were dumped out at the first hurdle in the cup, losing 0-1 at Dortmund’s Second Round opponents Heidenheim.
The lack of goals may prove a crucial factor again this season. They’ve only scored 8 so far this season, a top-flight low.
The side will be without Bienvenue Basala-Mazana (knee ligaments) and Srdjan Lakic (back) for the visit of Dortmund, and Tomoaki Makino will face a late fitness test as he tries to come back from a wrist injury. Former Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl, who left after thirteen years at the club this summer, is rated as 50/50 to start tomorrow.
Ref: Jochen Drees (Bad Kreuznach)
Weather: Dry, 9°C
The two clubs didn’t meet last season due to Köln playing in the second tier. Referee tomorrow is Jochen Drees, who took charge of BVB’s 5-1 win over Hannover five weeks ago. In his seven top-flight matches, he has shown 17 yellow cards and no reds.