Borussia Dortmund host Werder Bremen on Friday as both sides look to maintain perfect starts to the 2013-14 Bundesliga season. Having finished a disappointing 14th last season, just three points above the relegation zone, the visitors will be delighted by their start. The hosts may perhaps be slightly less enthralled, having nearly dropped points last weekend.
After two matches, BVB stand first in the Bundesliga table on goal difference, having beaten Augsburg (4-0) and Braunschweig (2-1). Werder have faced the same opposition, winning both fixtures 1-0.
Dortmund will have to do without long-term casualty Lukasz Piszczek and key holding midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, but will otherwise have a full squad available. Bremen are missing Philipp Bargfrede, Lukas Schmitz, Predrag Stevanovic and Tom Trybull.
Both sides will be keen to continue their fine form at season's start, and each will have over a week before its next fixture, so Friday's fixture promises to be an exciting affair. Let's take a look at key information for the match, followed by a look at individual players and how the match may unfold.
When: Friday, Aug. 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. CET)
Where: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Dortmund Player to Watch: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Dortmund's €25 million signing came to the Signal Iduna Park with high expectations and impressed in the preseason, but remains a question mark. He missed the DFB-Superpokal and BVB's first two competitive matches of the season due to injury, and only made his competitive debut last weekend.
In his first test for BVB, Mkhitaryan left something to be desired. Although he had some good ideas, they never quite came to fruition, and he was found lacking in an end product. It was his first match following an injury layoff, though, and more can be expected as he returns to fitness. Dortmund may need him to produce against Bremen if they are to keep their perfect start alive.
Bremen Player to Watch: Mehmet Ekici
Playmaker Mehmet Ekici has not exactly lived up to expectations since his 2011 move to Bremen, but the ex-Bayern man put his best foot forward over the weekend as he scored a cracking goal from distance against Augsburg.
The 23-year-old Ekici wears the No. 10 shirt for Werder for a reason: He boasts great technique and playmaking vision, and his ability to shoot from distance will be especially welcome as Bremen try to break down a tough BVB defense.
How will Dortmund vs. Bremen end?
Bremen are yet to concede a goal this season, but given that their two opponents have been predictable relegation candidates Braunschweig and Augsburg, that record is not likely to last much longer. Dortmund and Bremen may be on level terms thus far, but BVB are the better team and are playing at home, and can only be considered favorites.
Dortmund 2-0 Bremen