Borussia Dortmund host Wolfsburg this Tuesday in the DFB-Pokal semifinal. Jurgen Klopp's side have beaten Real Madrid and Bayern Munich by a combined 5-0 margin in their last two competitive fixtures, but they will face a challenge in the form of a Wolfsburg side that is hungry for silverware and currently gunning for a spot in the 2014-15 Champions League.
Although generally considered the least prestigious competition for a top-flight German team, the Pokal is Dortmund's only chance of winning silverware this spring and will therefore be taken seriously by Klopp and company.
Should they advance to the final, BVB may take on bitter rivals Bayern, provided the Bavarians overcome 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern in their semifinal fixture. And given their brilliant performance in a 3-0 win in Munich on Saturday, Klopp's men will be relishing the chance to beat Pep Guardiola's side in the final.
Here's the XI Klopp is most likely to deploy against Wolfsburg:
Goalkeeper: Roman Weidenfeller
Roman Weidenfeller is fit and eligible to play on Tuesday, and there is no doubt that he will start between the posts for Dortmund. The veteran is rarely rested, but his class and leadership are invaluable to BVB and he will be called upon in what may be Dortmund's last big game of the season (should they lose) or second-last big game in the event that they advance to the Pokal final.
Right-Back: Lukasz Piszczek
Lukasz Piszczek was rested for the Bayern game but will likely return to right-back against Wolfsburg. Especially if Kevin Grosskreutz is deployed in midfield, the Poland international can expect to feature on the right of the Dortmund defense.
Center-Back: Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Sokratis Papastathopoulos has played more games this season than any Dortmund defender, a testament not only to BVB's injury woes at the back, but also the Greece international's consistent, quality performances in the center of defense. Although Manuel Friedrich has been given a fair share of minutes as of late, Sokratis remains a starter in Dortmund's lineup—certainly until Neven Subotic makes his return from injury next season.
Center-Back: Mats Hummels
Like Weidenfeller, Mats Hummels is a lock for every big Dortmund game for which he is fit and eligible. The center-back had great games against Real and Bayern and is both healthy and not suspended, so he will take a spot in Klopp's XI to face Wolfsburg.
Left-Back: Erik Durm
It's taken some getting used to, but Erik Durm has especially in recent games become a reliable and strong choice at left-back for Dortmund. The converted striker played well against Real and was excellent in Munich. He is the only fit left-back in the BVB squad and will certainly start against Wolfsburg—and maybe even when Marcel Schmelzer returns to fitness.
Defensive Midfield: Sebastian Kehl
In spite of Oliver Kirch's surprise masterclass against Real, Sebastian Kehl took the 31-year-old's spot in midfield in Munich. Even in his advanced years, the captain remains Klopp's first-choice deputy for Sven Bender in defensive midfield. Kirch could yet start against Wolfsburg, but Kehl is the more likely candidate.
Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin
As with Kehl, in Munich Nuri Sahin replaced a player who gave a heroic performance against Madrid, Milos Jojic. The Turkey international, who recently confirmed his permanent move to Dortmund, remains for the time being Klopp's first-choice deputy for Ilkay Gundogan. Jojic will be better rested than Sahin ahead of the Wolfsburg match, but having played only as a substitute against Madrid, Sahin is not exactly overworked as he was in the fall campaign.
Right Wing: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Although used as a playmaker for almost the entire season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been displaced from his role in recent games. The Armenia international struggled on the right wing against Real Madrid but retained Klopp's confidence and put on a stellar display against Bayern in a somewhat withdrawn half-left wing, half-central midfield role. He may well play a position similar to that in which he played against Bayern, but on the right so as to accommodate Kevin Grosskreutz playing on the left wing.
Left Wing: Kevin Grosskreutz
Kevin Grosskreutz played right-back against Bayern but, more likely than not, he will be used in midfield against Wolfsburg. Another option is for Jonas Hofmann to start in midfield ahead of Grosskreutz, with the 25-year-old either starting from the bench or at right-back. But in such a high-stakes match, Grosskreutz's energy and defensive abilities are more useful than Hofmann's creativity.
Supporting Striker: Marco Reus
Marco Reus has started Dortmund's last two matches in a free-attacking role, playing centrally near the depth of a center-forward. In those games he's thrived: He scored both goals against Real Madrid in midweek and added a goal and an assist against Bayern on Saturday. The 24-year-old is in fine form and in all likelihood will be used in the same type of role against Wolfsburg.
Center Forward: Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski started on the Dortmund bench for the Bayern game, but the striker will not have the conflict of interest against Wolfsburg that he had when facing his future club and is sure to start. Although BVB have found other sources of goals as of late, Lewandowski has been and will remain a key part of their attack until his final game as a Dortmund player.
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