Borussia Dortmund host Borussia Monchengladbach this Saturday as the Ruhr side aim to solidify their hold on second place in the Bundesliga ahead of next week's Champions League second-leg clash with Zenit.
Gladbach are winless in their last nine games, but Jurgen Klopp is well aware of the threat posed by the Fohlen. Last fall, BVB dominated Lucien Favre's side for 80 minutes before being stunned by two late goals, losing 2-0 at home. Dortmund will have to be careful to take their chances this time.
BVB will be bolstered by the return of Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski, both of whom missed last week's win against Freiburg. Here's the most likely XI Klopp will use in Saturday's match:
Goalkeeper: Roman Weidenfeller
Vice-captain Roman Weidenfeller is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, the man between the posts for Dortmund. The 33-year-old's experience is crucial to his team's success, and Mitchell Langerak and Hendrik Bonmann, for the time being, will remain as backups.
Right-Back: Lukasz Piszczek
Lukasz Piszczek was forced to leave training early on Thursday, but his withdrawal was only a precautionary measure and the right-back appears set to start on Saturday. Should his situation worsen and he finds himself unable to play, Kevin Grosskreutz will be his stand-in.
Centre-Back: Sokratis Papastathopoulos
The one near-constant figure in BVB's defense this season has been Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who has proven himself well worth the €9.5 million transfer fee Dortmund paid Bremen in exchange for his release. With Neven Subotic out for the season, the Greek defender has earned the right to start every game for which he is fit an eligible.
Centre-Back: Mats Hummels
Dortmund have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the Bundesliga since Mats Hummels' return to the starting XI; before that, they lost 3-0 to Hamburg. Those results tell just how important the 25-year-old is to BVB's success in defense. Hummels will be keen to put on a good performance ahead of his return to Champions League action next week. Previously, he only played in Dortmund's first three matches of the group stage, missing four consecutive appearances in that competition due to a trio of injuries.
Left-Back: Marcel Schmelzer
After suffering two muscular injuries that sidelined him for much of the fall campaign, Marcel Schmelzer is back to full fitness and form. He's played every minute of every game for Dortmund in the 2014 calendar year thus far and is sure to start against Gladbach.
Defensive Midfield: Sebastian Kehl
With Sven Bender sidelined, Sebastian Kehl is taking his chance to prove himself worthy of an extension beyond the end of his current contract, which expires at season's end. The captain is 34 years old but remains a fully capable deputy for Bender; his brilliant lobbed goal made the difference for BVB in their most recent match.
Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin
Nuri Sahin was withdrawn in the second half of last week's match and seemed to have a bit of a spat with Klopp when he left the pitch. Nonetheless, he's expected to start this weekend. The trainer at the moment has no reliable alternative to the Turkey international, who has had an excellent season deputizing for the still-injured Ilkay Gundogan.
Right Wing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
As with Sahin and Kehl, there is no question as to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's role in the Dortmund team at present. The Gabon international has been outscored by only Mario Mandzukic, Adrian Ramos and Robert Lewandowski among Bundesliga players this season, and with Jakub Blaszczykowski out for the season with a knee injury, Aubameyang has no established competition.
Centre-Attacking Midfield: Jonas Hofmann
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was suspended following his fifth yellow card of the campaign, meaning that Jurgen Klopp will have to decide on an alternative in the playmaker's role. Milos Jojic is a candidate, and strikers Julian Schieber and Marvin Ducksch could also play (albeit higher than Mkhitaryan's usual position), but it just might be the time that Jonas Hofmann finally makes his first Bundesliga start for BVB. The 21-year-old has often shown a creative spark as a substitute and could give what Dortmund need to take three points.
Left Wing: Kevin Grosskreutz
A muscular problem will keep Marco Reus out of action for a second consecutive week, meaning that Kevin Grosskreutz can expect to start on the left wing. If Piszczek is unfit to play and Grosskreutz is forced to move to right-back, Hofmann will likely start on the wing with one of Jojic, Schieber or Ducksch playing centrally with or behind Lewandowski.
Centre-Forward: Robert Lewandowski
A cruciate ligament strain kept Robert Lewandowski out of last week's match, but the Poland international has been pronounced fit to start again this weekend. He will lead the line, bearing heavy expectations as Dortmund aim to produce goals without Reus and Mkhitaryan.
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