How Borussia Dortmund Will Line Up Against Marseille
Borussia Dortmund resume their Champions League Group F campaign on Tuesday as they host Marseille at the Signal-Iduna Park.
Beating Marseille would never be an easy task for Juergen Klopp's side even if they were at full strength. But with Roman Weidenfeller suspended and Ilkay Gundogan, Marcel Schmelzer, Sebastian Kehl and Lukasz Piszczek all injured, BVB face an especially difficult task. With so many key players absent, this is how Dortmund are most likely to line up against L'OM:
Goalkeeper: Mitch Langerak
With Roman Weidenfeller having been sent off in the Napoli match, Dortmund will have to rely on the rather inexperienced Mitch Langerak between the posts. The 25-year-old was recently named to Holger Osieck's Australia squad and appears set to make his debut as Mark Schwarzer has been left out by the Socceroos.
The position of goalkeeper is now a bit of a weakness for BVB, but Klopp has no other viable option. Behind Langerak, the club's only goalkeeper is Zlatan Alomerovic, who plays with the reserves in the 3. Liga.
Right-Back: Kevin Grosskreutz
As in the case of Langerak, there is little option for Klopp other than to use Kevin Grosskreutz at right-back. The position has belonged to Lukasz Piszczek for several years, but with the Poland international sidelined with a long-term injury Grosskreutz has been used as cover.
Although he spent his entire career until this season playing in attack, Grosskreutz has adapted well enough to a defensive role that he now is without a doubt Klopp's first-choice right-back.
Center-Back: Neven Subotic
Neven Subotic has been a regular starter for BVB this season, with new signing Sokratis having been used only sparingly. It is possible that the Greek defender may be called upon to play at right-back, with Grosskreutz on the left and the young and inexperienced Erik Durm benched.
In either case, Subotic will likely start alongside Mats Hummels in central defense. The two have a good understanding and are very experienced even at just 24 years of age.
Center-Back: Mats Hummels
Although his current form is not what it has been in the past, Mats Hummels remains an irreplaceable part of the Dortmund back four. The other spot is for Subotic and Sokratis to compete over.
Hummels has suffered from back issues from time to time in the last year or so but is fit to play and therefore will start.
Left-Back: Erik Durm
Dortmund were dealt a hefty blow on Saturday as Marcel Schmelzer was diagnosed with a torn muscle that will keep him out for three weeks. His replacement will be Erik Durm.
Like Grosskreutz, Durm was a strictly attacking player until recently. Throughout his youth career he played as a striker at Mainz. And although he has occasionally deputized in defense this season, he faces a huge task as he competes in the biggest game of his career thus far.
Defensive Midfield: Sven Bender
As with the full-backs and goalkeeper, Dortmund have next to no options available in defensive midfield. Sven Bender is fit for the holding role and will start for sure, with Sebastian Kehl sidelined with a foot injury.
Dortmund will have to hope Bender remains fit, as beyond him and Nuri Sahin the only player with any experience in central midfield is Grosskreutz, who is needed at right-back.
Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin
Deputizing for the injured Ilkay Gundogan will be Nuri Sahin. The Turkey international and native of nearby Luettenscheid has been very useful as a backup, but he is still not at the level at which he played during the 2010-11 season.
Even so, Klopp has no choice but to trust in Sahin for the time being and hope for the best. There is absolutely no cover for him at this point.
Right Wing: Jakub Blaszczykowski
Although the summer signings of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as the emergence of Jonas Hofmann have added some competition for playing time in the Dortmund lineup, Jakub Blaszczykowski is likely to remain Klopp's first choice on the right wing in big games.
The Poland captain is a seasoned veteran with great all-round qualities and has an outstanding sense of tactics and positioning. With a natural winger in Grosskreutz playing at right-back, Klopp will especially appreciate the defensive qualities that Blaszczykowski brings.
Central Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Perhaps the one Dortmund player whose position is most in danger is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenia international was anonymous in BVB's Champions League opener against Napoli and would be easily replaced by Marco Reus, with Aubameyang filling in on the left wing.
However, playing at home and against Marseille, BVB may be more concerned with creativity than pace. Mkhitaryan provides playmaking quality and a good shot from his central position. Aubameyang may have speed, but that becomes less useful when opponents do not leave space to counterattack as may well be the case in Tuesday's match.
Left Wing: Marco Reus
Dortmund have five highly qualified attacking midfielders competing for three spots in Klopp's lineup, but the one definite starter is Marco Reus. The Germany international has a propensity to score wonder-goals and is equally adept as a creator. With outstanding dribbling and shooting technique and a quick burst of pace, he is a complete and extremely dangerous package.
Following Mario Goetze's departure, much is expected of Reus. The 24-year-old is now by far the most dangerous man in the BVB lineup and therefore the one player who can be relied upon to be a game-changer.
Striker: Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski was Dortmund's goal-scoring hero in the Champions League last season. Regardless of whether he's entirely thrilled to be at the Westfalenstadion for another season, he remains BVB's one and only proven center-forward and an absolutely vital part of Klopp's tactical plans.
Much is expected of Dortmund following their run to the 2013 final at Wembley. And with Julian Schieber having failed to make an impression and Marvin Ducksch still very young, the burden on Lewandowski will be especially heavy.
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