The Borussia Dortmund women's handball team endured a corona-enforced break in midweek, with their Bundesliga fixture away to Bad Wildungen on Wednesday called off due to several positive cases in the opposition camp. But they will return to action when top Russian team Rostov-on-Don visit the Helmut-Körnig-Halle in the Champions League on Saturday evening (18:00 CET). Six hundred spectators are officially permitted in accordance with the current coronavirus regulations.

BVB might be in fourth spot but they are clear underdogs for a third-place finish in the group. "Rostov are in a different league to us: they want to finish second in the group, we're playing for sixth place – or perhaps slightly higher," said Borussia coach André Fuhr as he compared the two teams. Rostov lost by only two goals to table-toppers Esbjerg last weekend and are known for their especially physically style of play. "Their physical condition is really good, we already had some issues with that in the reverse fixture," commented Fuhr.

With nine of the 14 rounds of group games played, BVB already have nine points on the board – a record for a German team in the competition. The play-offs will commence on 26 March. If the Black & Yellows finish sixth in the group, they would have to go up against the third-placed team in Group B. At the moment, it is French side Metz who occupy that position. If BVB were to finish the preliminary phase in fifth place in Group A, they would face CSKA Moscow as it stands. The return fixtures are scheduled for 2 April.

But André Fuhr is not thinking about that for the minute. His focus is fully and entirely on Rostov, an opponent that does not necessarily suit BVB. The Dortmund ladies lost the return fixture in October by a 10-goal margin as the home side ran out 37-27 winners in front of an excellent home crowd of more than 2,000 spectators. It goes without saying that BVB are also hopeful there will be good support from the stands; in agreement with the City of Dortmund, 600 fans will be permitted at the Körnig-Halle. Tickets will be exclusively available from the box office and the 2G rule applies. Masks must be worn throughout the hall, even at your seat.

Special praise for Frida Rønning

The fact that the Black & Yellows returned from Croatia having beaten Podravka Vegeta 32-24 in the Champions League despite the difficult personnel situation was not necessarily to be expected. "All in all, it was a victory achieved by the whole team," said Fuhr in praise of his depleted charges, who took to the court in Croatia without injured captain Alina Grijseels and Jennifer Gutiérrez Bermejo, who had tested positive for corona beforehand.

In addition to the outstanding pivot Merel Freriks, goalkeeper Yara ten Holte and the in-form duo of Mia Zschocke and Laura van der Heijden, Fuhr reserved praise for another player who is otherwise usually overshadowed by the outstanding Alina Grijseels: Norwegian Frida Rønning. "Following the injury to Alina, Frida went about her business very well – first against Rosengarten and then against Podravka Vegeta as well."

The Dortmund ladies have been back from Croatia since Monday afternoon. The Bundesliga match in Bad Wildungen, which had been due to take place on Wednesday, was called off due to positive corona cases. For André Fuhr, it was anything but a reason to rejoice. "Of course we now have slightly less travel stress, but I'd have liked to keep up our rhythm. We were prepared for Bad Wildungen. Furthermore, we now need to make up two games following the cancellation in Blomberg as well. It's going to be rather tight."

The personnel situation remains challenging. Goalkeeper Madita Kohorst is suffering from tonsillitis, while Alina Grijseels has started light training – wearing a special mask after breaking her nose in Bietigheim – but is not yet ready to play. There is still hope for Jennifer Gutiérrez Bermejo, who initially had to undergo some medical examinations after contracting the coronavirus. "It is not out of the question that Jennifer will play on Saturday," said André Fuhr, who struck a cautiously optimistic tone about the possibility of his left winger taking to the court at the weekend.