With a "fresh start" ahead of them in 2014, Borussia Dortmund will get the opportunity to start the year on the right foot on Saturday afternoon. FC Augsburg won't be an easy out, however, and are heading to Dortmund with the belief than a win is within reach.
BVB have lost their last three home matches while being outscored 6-1. Perhaps some of the mystique is fading at the fabled Westfalenstadion? Maybe. Probably not. Sometimes, a bad run of form is just a bad run of form. Those losses did come against Bayern Munich (0-3), Bayer Leverkusen (0-1), and Hertha Berlin (1-2) who sit in first, second, and sixth place in the league coming into the weekend. Augsburg, on the other hand, ended the 2013 season on a five match unbeaten run.
Jürgen Klopp will have to do some finagling with his lineup with his two starting centerbacks still missing due to injury. Neven Subotic is still out until the end of the season with a torn ACL, and Mats Hummels hasn't yet come back due to the ankle injury he suffered a few months ago. Against Augsburg, we're likely to see Dortmund throw a centerback pairing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sven Bender on the field. Yes, Sven Bender is going to play centerback.
Augsburg's new loanee from Sunderland Dong-Won Ji will probably be a match time decision for the match. Strangely enough, Ji will be joining BVB this summer on a transfer. Augsburg's defense will be the same steady group that they've put out all season long. This match is going to hinge on how well Callsen-Bracker and Klavan can handle Robert Lewandowski. His ability to occupy one or both of them will allow Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Aubameyang to run in behind.
Die Borussen now have a fight on their hands to qualify for next season's Champions League. Gladbach and Wolfsburg have shown us that they're not messing around this season. While a win here won't clinch anything for BVB, a loss could find them out of the Champions League places at the end of Matchday 18.
Borussia Dortmund injuries and suspensions
Out: Ilkay Gundogan (back), Mats Hummels (ankle), Neven Subotic (knee) In doubt: Lukasz Piszczek (thigh)
Augsburg injuries and suspensions
Out: Mohamed Amsif (knee), Sascha Mölders (ankle), Jan Moravek (muscle tear), Ronny Philp (back) In doubt: Dong-Won Ji (thigh)
Borussia Dortmund: Roman Weidenfeller; Kevin Großkreutz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sven Bender, Marcel Schmelzer; Nuri Sahin, Sebastian Kehl; Pierre Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus; Robert Lewandowski
Augsburg: Marwin Hitz; Paul Verhaegh, Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker Ragnar Klavan, Matthias Ostrzolek; Daniel Baier; Andre Hahn, Kevin Vogt, Halil Altintop, Tobias Werner; Raul Bobadilla
Match Date/Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. local, 9:30 a.m. ET
Venue: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
TV: Sky Bundesliga (Germany)
Online: Sky Go (Germany)