Borussia Dortmund kick off their Rückrunde in Augsburg on Saturday. Here is what Lucien Favre and Michael Zorc had to say at Thursday’s news conference.
Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Erling Haaland were unable to fully participate in recent weeks and go into the start of the Rückrunde with training deficits and are doubtful for Saturday’s game. “Those three have trained every day of the week thus far, so we’ll see if they can play.” Favre said, adding: “Marcel Schmelzer is out, Tobias Raschl couldn’t train this week and also Thomas Delaney is definitely out.”
The 62-year-old added that it’s possible that Haaland will make his first appearance against Augsburg but added later: “He didn’t train between 10 December and the end of December and also missed the beginning on the training camp, so that’s only a short time. But he ran a lot yesterday, which looked OK.”
Gio Reyna makes the squad
The positive development of 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna has earned the U.S. midfielder a promotion from the Under 19 to a full member of the first team during the winter break.
And the good news continues for the youngster as Favre confirmed that he will be in the Matchday squad against the Fuggerstädter. For Reyna, that will be the second time he makes the cut since Dortmund’s 5-0 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 14.
BVB sporting director Michael Zorc added that both the addition of 19-year-old Erling Haaland and Reyna bring new impulses to the squad: “Erling is a player type and a type of striker that we hadn’t had before in the squad. And Gio was already part of the squad during our summer break, where he left a very good impression. He is physically very far for his 17 years. It made sense to pull him up to the first team and that will definitely give the whole squad new impulses.”
Borussia Dortmund cannot be happy with the 30 points of the Hinrunde — which are 4 points fewer in the previous Rückrunde and 12 points fewer than in the previous Hinrunde of the 2018-2019 season. The Black and Yellows want to buck the negative trend starting against Augsburg.
“We want to get more points in the second half of the season than we did in the first half of the season. We simply have to be better,” Favre said, knowing that 60 points are likely not enough for a top-four finish at the end of this very competitive Bundesliga season.
Zorc added: “I believe that we showed largely good performances toward the end of the Hinrunde. For example the first half against Leipzig, but also the game in Hoffenheim, where we were the better team but didn’t get the result that we wanted. Obviously, things would be looking very different now had we gotten better results in those two games. So we have to work on that.”
More passion, please!
FC Augsburg picked up five wins and one draw in their last seven games, which propelled them from the relegation play-off spot up to 10th place.
Favre explained that the upswing in form of Martin Schmidt’s side has to do with their long-winded integration of new players. He said: “Augsburg have changed up half their team. Compared to the game in the Hinrunde, there are only four or five players with the goalkeeper that frequently play and there are five or six other players that they needed to slowly integrate into the team because they signed them very late in the summer. And step by step Augsburg moved back up [in the table]. They had a good run [toward the end of 2019] — also on the road because they’re good on the counter-attack. We need to be awake from the first second on.”
Zorc, meanwhile, warned that BVB cannot afford to take Saturday’s game lightly again. Dortmund lost valuable points in the title race last season due to an arrogant performance at the WWK Arena, which yielded in a bitter 2-1 loss.
“The team needs to show a good performance and do what the coach is tasking them to do. Last season, we didn’t play a good game in Augsburg. Augsburg played with incredible passion then so we know what will be expecting us this time around and we have to prepare accordingly. We certainly have the means to counter their strengths and we travel there to win,” Zorc said.