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How Borussia Dortmund Will Line Up Against Wolfsburg

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How Borussia Dortmund Will Line Up Against Wolfsburg
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Borussia Dortmund suffered a demoralizing Champions League defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday, losing 1-0 at home in a match that likely means they will need to win their final two group stage matches in order to progress to the knockout rounds. BVB have no time to lament their loss, though, and now have to look forward to Saturday as they look to maintain their fine Bundesliga form when they take on Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena.

To their fortune, Dortmund did not suffer any casualties in midweek and can expect a near-full squad to be fit to play, with the exceptions of long-term absentees Ilkay Gundogan and Lukasz Piszczek. The only question mark is over center-back Mats Hummels, who missed the Arsenal match due to injuries to his back and thigh.

Juergen Klopp will have some weary legs in his squad and may have to shuffle his team ahead of the Wolfsburg match. Here's his most likely starting XI for Saturday's fixture:

 

Goalkeeper: Roman Weidenfeller

Although he made a few errors in judgment in coming off his line on Wednesday, Roman Weidenfeller should get the start against Wolfsburg.

The veteran has years of experience under his belt, and one questionable performance is unlikely to significantly alter his stock. Especially with captain Sebastian Kehl still unlikely to start, Weidenfeller can expect to play from the beginning for his leadership alone.

 

Right-Back: Kevin Grosskreutz

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According to Kicker, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc revealed on Thursday (article in German) that Lukasz Piszczek's recovery from hip and groin injuries is progressing faster than expected, and that the Poland international could be back in action before the winter break. But Piszczek is still a long way from being fit to start and until he is, Kevin Grosskreutz remains the man to play at right-back in Klopp's team.

 

Center Back: Neven Subotic

Neven Subotic was partly at fault for Arsenal's winner in midweek but can expect to retain his starting role over the weekend.

If Mats Hummels is not fit, BVB will have no qualified alternatives to the Serbia international and Sokratis Papasthathopoulos; if the German defender is, Klopp will likely prefer using the telepathic partnership that he and Subotic have to offer.

 

Center Back: Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels was absent from Wednesday's match against Arsenal due to back and thigh injuries, and Dortmund sorely missed the 24-year-old's presence in central defense. Sokratis Papastathopoulos was poor as the Germany international's deputy.

Klopp revealed on Thursday that Hummels has made progress and was expected to return to training before the match, as reported by Soccerway—if he's fit, he will start. 

 

Left-Back: Marcel Schmelzer

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Marcel Schmelzer didn't have the best of games against Arsenal, and perhaps Erik Durm may be given a chance to prove himself on the left of defense. But Klopp did not say anything about the former Mainz attacker or his longstanding preferred left-sided defender in Thursday's pre-match press conference, so it can only be assumed that Schmelzer will get the nod to start once more.

 

Defensive Midfield: Sven Bender

Captain Sebastian Kehl has been available to play for the last week after recovering from injury, but it's unlikely that the veteran will start given that he's yet to make even a substitute's appearance since the beginning of September. Kehl will probably get some minutes off the bench on Saturday, but expect the tireless Sven Bender to carry on in his role as midfield anchor.

 

Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin

With Ilkay Gundogan out until 2014, Nuri Sahin can expect to start every game for BVB. As seen against Arsenal, there just isn't any backup in the "regista" position—when Klopp needed another reliable ball-playing midfielder in the center, he replaced Bender with winger Jonas Hofmann. Sahin has been in blistering form for BVB, and the Ruhr side will need him to be at his best if they are to take three points.

 

Right Wing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Jakub Blaszczykowski was one of Dortmund's most dangerous players against Arsenal and, having been substituted off early, would have been fresh and ready to start against Wolfsburg. But in BVB's pre-match press conference on Thursday, it was revealed that the Poland captain was struck with a stomach virus and his availability on Saturday is therefore in doubt.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been in a longstanding struggle with Blaszczykowski for playing time, can expect to have a good opportunity to make an impression as he starts on the wing.

 

Central Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the most active man on the pitch in the Arsenal match but missed a great chance to put the hosts ahead in the first half. In spite of that miss, the Armenia international is well regarded by Klopp and can expect to start. Mkhitaryan will be chomping at the bit to make amends for his mistake.

 

Left Wing: Marco Reus

Marco Reus has rarely had a moment's rest in recent weeks, and the Wolfsburg match might normally be the right time for him to be given a break. But with international friendlies on the horizon, he can start this weekend and expect to play sparingly for Germany as Joachim Loew experiments in fixtures with Italy and England. That will be Reus' rest; in the meantime, there's business to take care of at Dortmund.

 

Striker: Robert Lewandowski

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As with some others in the Dortmund squad, like Grosskreutz, there is no rest for Robert Lewandowski. The 25-year-old has hardly missed a minute for BVB this season, but he's the only reliable striker in Klopp's squad and as always will be called upon to deliver the necessary goals.

 

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