2010 and 2011 champions, Dortmund begin 2015 with an away trip to Leverkusen in hopes of beginning the slow ascent back up the table. Their opponents, Leverkusen will look to improve their chances of Champions League qualification with a win in Saturdaya s top game at the Bay Arena. Leverkusen stand in 3rd place, 6 points of second placed Wolfsburg and their opponents Dortmund are languishing in 17th, after a dreadful first half of the season which saw them pick up just four victories.
Although thirteen points separate the two sides, coach Roger Schmidt remains wary about the strength of the Dortmund attack. Jurgen Klopp on the other hand firmly has stressed the fact that this is not a game where Dortmund are not the favourites, and the possibility of relegation is still present.
Dortmund new boy Kevin Kampl and Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt are reunited after their days together at RB Salzburg. The Slovenian is also a youth product of Bayer Leverkusen, but failed to make a competitive appearance for them, during his first spell in the Bundesliga.
Borussia Dortmund won both their friendlies 1-0 against Utrecht and Steaua Bucharest , with Kampl and Marco Reus looking to have developed a fine understanding between them. Although, the team looks more composed than the first half of the season, only a competitive game will truly prove this.
Bayer Leverkusen participated in the Florida Cup in USA, which saw them win 3-0 against Fluminese but lose 2-1 to Corinthians, with more playing time given to the youth players, rather than the first team. A 4-1 win against Mainz last week set up the perfect conclusion to the winter break.
Team News and expected lineups:
Leverkusen duo Heung Min Son and Robbie Kruse, along with Dortmund keeper Mitch Langerak will not feature in the game as they are still on International leave, with their teams meet in the Asia Cup final in Sydney. Right-backs, Guilio Donati and Tin Jedvaj are the only injury concerns for the hosts.
Sebastian Kehl(shoulder), Erik Durm, Jakub Blaszczykowksi (flu) and Sven Bender (knee) have all picked up injuries during the winter break, which rules them out of the game and denies the latter a chance to face-off against his twin brother and Leverkusen captain, Lars. Kevin Grosskreutz and Ilkay Gundogan, although nursing minor knocks, will mostly be fit by Saturday. Shinji Kagawa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyanga s international have already returned to Dortmund, following disappointing international performances, and are in contention for a starting role.
Leverkusen: Leno a Hilbert a Toprak a Spahic a Wendell a Bender a Castro a Bellarabi a Calhanoglu a Drmic a Kiessling
Dortmund: Weidenfeller a Piszcek a Sokratis a Hummels a Schmelzer a Gundogan a Sahin a Reus a Kampl a Mkhitaryan a Aubameyang
The last time Dortmund lost at Leverkusen was way back in 2007
Matchday 1 of the 2014-15 season saw Dortmund disappoint at home, and after conceding the fastest ever Bundesliga goal (10 seconds) to Karim Bellarabi, things never improved for the hosts. A late goal finally ensured that Leverkusen triumphed 2-0.
Leverksusen 1-2 Dortmund.
The visitors have had enough time to put their troubles behind them, and will look to start the year with a strong sense of purpose. Marco Reus and Kevin Kampl will look to bother the slow Leverkusen back line, which could be the main talking point of the game.