Borussia Dortmund head into the final set of Bundesliga fixtures for 2022 this weekend knowing that a loss could leave them nine points behind leaders Bayern Munich with just 15 games played.
A midweek loss against Wolfsburg ended a run of three straight wins and another defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday would see Dortmund enter the Bundesliga winter break in disappointing fashion.
Speaking on Thursday, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said his side needed to “throw everything our bodies have to offer on the line” against Gladbach.
“Gladbach will certainly want to show a different face after Tuesday’s loss (against Bochum) and so will we,” Terzic told the pre-match press conference.
“We will play to win – that is of course clear.”
While Gladbach are yet to win away from home this season, their five wins from seven matches at Borussia Park will give them confidence ahead of Dortmund’s visit.
Dortmund have struggled on their travels, losing four of their last five league games away from the comfort of Signal Iduna Park.
“We have not achieved enough wins,” Terzic said.
Terzic has previously challenged his side’s “intrinsic motivation” in a season where good performances — including draws against Manchester City and Bayern Munich — are followed up by poor showings.
One player who is unlikely to be lacking motivation is defender and captain Mats Hummels, 33, who was left out of Germany coach Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad announced on Thursday.
Flick acknowledged Hummels’ impressive form for Dortmund, but said Germany needed to “keep one eye on the future” with their squad selections.
Hummels promised to “work hard in response” to what he called “one of the biggest disappointments of my career”.
Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl, who was Hummels’ captain as the side won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, said the omission would be “certainly not easy for Mats to accept”.
Terzic confirmed that another absentee from the Germany squad, injured forward Marco Reus, would miss the Gladbach game as he continues to push for a return from an ankle issue.
Key player: Randal Kolo Muani
The Frankfurt striker has wasted no time since arriving on a free transfer from French side Nantes in the summer, establishing himself as a key member of coach Oliver Glasner’s overachieving line-up.
Kolo Muani, who hails from Bondy, the same Paris suburb as France star Kylian Mbappe, has nine assists so far this term – the most of any player in the Bundesliga.
The 23-year-old also scored a goal in each of Frankfurt’s one-goal wins over Marseille and Sporting Lisbon, helping the Eagles qualify for the Champions League knockouts for the first time.
0 – Number of caps striker Niklas Fuellkrug, 29, has for Germany. He was called up to Qatar on Thursday, with coach Hansi Flick saying “he gives the team the confidence that anything is possible”.
12 – Goals for RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku so far this season. He scored 20 in total last season, when the Frenchman won the Bundesliga player of the year award.
21 – Bayern Munich are undefeated in their last 21 matches against Schalke. The Royal Blues’ last league win against the Bavarians came in December 2010 – when Jamal Musiala was just seven.
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