Dortmund enter the fourth round of Bundesliga action with a chance to move two points clear of leaders Bayern in the table. The 2011 and 2012 winners of the German competition led the table until the Bavarians earned a draw in Freiburg on Tuesday that put them clear. Bayern's dropping of points has opened the door for BVB to pounce—but they will have it all to do on Sunday as they face Europa League hopefuls Frankfurt at the Commerzbank-Arena.
BVB will be without the services of influential midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, whose back injury still needs another three to four weeks to fully heal. He will join long-term casualty Lukasz Piszczek in the stands, with Nuri Sahin filling the vacancy in defensive midfield.
Frankfurt will be below full strength as well. Sebastian Jung is still some time away from fitness following a muscle tear. Super-talent Marc Stendera is also certain to be missing; the attacking midfielder tore his anterior cruciate ligament in preseason and won't return before the spring.
Just two weeks ago, Frankfurt put in a strong effort and nearly took a point from Bayern at home. But Dortmund have been and continue to be a dominant force in German football. Sunday's match therefore promises to be a tantalizing fixture for viewers.
When: Sunday, Sep. 1 at 11:30 a.m. ET (5:30 p.m. CET)
Where: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt
Frankfurt Player to Watch: Alex Meier
Always a talented player but never quite at international level, Alex Meier carried Frankfurt last season in their close call with a top-four finish in the Bundesliga. His 16-goal tally was by far the best of his career. And the towering forward has started the 2013-14 campaign on a similar note, having found the net twice in his first three matches.
Dortmund have looked fragile at the back this season; if Frankfurt are to score, odds are that Meier will be the man to deliver, either with an assist or a finish of his own.
Dortmund Player to Watch: Nuri Sahin
Ilkay Gundogan's back injury may be a heavy blow for Dortmund, but it's given Nuri Sahin plenty of time to find his form as he looks to become a world-class player once more. The Turkey international has steadily improved over the first three matchdays of the season and gave his best performance yet against Bremen last weekend.
At this rate, we may see the Sahin of 2010-11 by the time Gundogan is fit again. And if so, Jurgen Klopp will have the most pleasant of selection headaches.
Frankfurt earned their first win of the season against Braunschweig last week and have come a long way since their 6-1 opening-day loss to Hertha, but nonetheless remain fragile. Bayern edged them 1-0 at home two weeks ago, and a similar result against Dortmund is perhaps the most likely scenario.
Frankfurt 0-1 Dortmund