Dortmund resume their Champions League campaign on Wednesday as they host Arsenal at the Signal-Iduna Park. Under pressure after earning just three points in their first two games, the Ruhr side claimed an impressive 2-1 victory at the Emirates in October that left them level on points with the Gunners and Napoli atop Group F. And now they will hope to get the better of Arsene Wenger's side for the second time in 15 days.
BVB enter Wednesday's match well rested and in fine form. They played their most recent fixture last Friday, beating Stuttgart 6-1 in front of a capacity 80,645 crowd at home. Although Ilkay Gundogan and Lukasz Pisczek remain sidelined with injuries, the rest of Juergen Klopp's squad will be ready and raring for the chance to make an impression on the big stage. Here's the trainer's most probable selection for Wednesday's match:
Goalkeeper: Roman Weidenfeller
Roman Weidenfeller was a hero of Dortmund's run to the Champions League final last season and will be the most senior member of Klopp's team to face Arsenal. The 33-year-old is formally only the deputy to captain Sebastian Kehl, but as the latter has grown older and been plagued by injuries, Weidenfeller has effectively served as full-time captain over the last couple years. His calming presence at the back is invaluable to a young BVB team, and even in his advanced years, he remains a key player.
Right-Back: Kevin Grosskreutz
Although Lukasz Piszczek has recently returned to training, he still is long away from making his return to first-team football. And he certainly will not start his first game of the year in a pressure-cooker like the Arsenal match. Kevin Gorsskreutz has been great as his stand-in, and notably assisted Robert Lewandowski's winner in London. As BVB's only fit right-back, Grosskreutz is a shoe-in to start against the Gunners.
Center-Back: Neven Subotic
Although Sokratis Papastathopoulos was given a rare start against Stuttgart and scored a key equalizer, Neven Subotic is more likely to be named to Klopp's first XI. The Serbia international is more experienced in the Champions League than Sokratis, and one match is unlikely to change Klopp's pecking order—especially given how well Subotic played against Arsenal two weeks ago.
Center-Back: Mats Hummels
Mats Hummels has come under heavy criticism this season, but as of late has experienced a resurgence of form. The 24-year-old was brilliant against Arsenal two weeks ago, and Juergen Klopp has supported him in a rather public spat with Germany coach Joachim Loew. He still has Klopp's faith and is sure to start against Arsenal.
Left-Back: Marcel Schmelzer
After coming back from an injury layoff, Marcel Schmelzer played his first 90 minutes against Arsenal. The 25-year-old left something to be desired in that match, and has been substituted off in both of BVB's Bundesliga fixtures since. But he remains the only established left-back in Klopp's squad, and the trainer surely would be hesitant to use the untested Erik Durm, who until recently played as a striker, against such a strong Arsenal side.
Defensive Midfield: Sven Bender
Captain Sebastian Kehl should be fit to play against Arsenal, but with Sven Bender having played very well in his injury-induced absence and the veteran having not played since the beginning of September, the 24-year-old should be preferred from the start as BVB take on some very tricky opponents in Arsenal. Bender has a tremendous work rate, which will be valued as Dortmund look to shut down Mesut Ozil and Co.
Defensive Midfield: Nuri Sahin
After a year-and-a-half stint at Real Madrid and Liverpool that was a resounding failure, Nuri Sahin returned on loan to Dortmund in January where he served as backup for Ilkay Gundogan. The latter has been injured throughout the 2013-14 campaign, however, and Sahin has progressively found his form. Now playing near the level that made him the Bundesliga's best player in 2010-11, Sahin has reportedly earned the trust of BVB to pay his €7 million buy-out clause at season's end. With Gundogan only having recently returned to training and still not yet fit, Sahin will start in his place.
Right Wing: Jakub Blaszczykowski
Ever since the beginning of the season, Jakub Blaszczykowski has been involved in a head-to-head competition with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a starting role on the right wing. The Poland captain started in London, and with BVB less desperate for three points heading into Wednesday's match, his defensive qualities should see him start over the more striker-like Aubameyang. Blaszczykowski played well against Stuttgart, and given that he started in that "dress rehearsal" match, he should be used from the first whistle once again.
Central Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's Dortmund career had somewhat of a turbulent start, with the Armenia international playing intermittently brilliant games between lackluster spells. The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk man has found his form over the last few weeks, however, and repaid Klopp's faith with some strong performances in the playmaker position. He has plenty of Champions League experience and scored against Arsenal a fortnight ago—for these reasons alone he is qualified to start.
Left Wing: Marco Reus
Robert Lewandowski may have captured the headlines following the Stuttgart win, but Marco Reus was brilliant when the match was still close and deserves heaps of praise for putting BVB on his back as he has so often this season. The 24-year-old scored an outstanding goal to give Dortmund the lead at 2-1, then played a clever back-heel assist to Lewandowski to put the result to rest at 3-1. Much has been needed from Reus following Mario Goetze's summer departure, and the Dortmund native has delivered time and time again. Klopp substituted him after an hour on Friday to ensure he will be fresh and fit for Wednesday's match.
Striker: Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski was unplayable against Stuttgart in a match that was reminiscent of his four-goal gala against Real Madrid in April. The Poland international scored a hat-trick and added an assist, putting VfB to the sword. Although he is set to leave Dortmund on a free transfer next summer, Lewandowski has played as a model professional this season and looks set to give everything for the club before he goes. And as such, he remains Klopp's first-choice striker.