Saturday brought good news from Andalucia as Erik Durm returned to action following a long spell out. Coach Peter Stöger was satisfied with the first friendly of the year, despite identifying room for improvement. Meanwhile, there was news from a player who had remained at home.
Jan-Philip Kirschke reporting from Marbella
Let's start with the best first: Erik Durm's back! 224 days after making his last competitive appearance in black & yellow, which was followed by hip surgery, the 25-year-old made his long-awaited comeback on Saturday evening. Durm came on from the bench in the 60th minute of Borussia's first friendly of 2018, in which they beat second-tier Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-0, and made "a positive impression", according to head coach Peter Stöger. "We had agreed beforehand that he would play for less than a full half to start with," explained the Austrian tactician.
Stöger's take on the 2-0 win over Düsseldorf
Stöger was equally impressed with the display delivered by his other charges, even if not everything went entirely according to plan. "It was your typical first friendly of a training camp," he said after the final whistle. "We're happy that we got the victory and kept a clean sheet in the process. But in the first half there was not enough movement in our play going forward." His players did improve after the restart, however, and ultimately ran out deserved winners courtesy of goals from Alexander Isak and Shinji Kagawa at the Estadio Municipal de La Línea de la Concepción, which sits just north of the border with Gibraltar.
Attacking play the focus
"On the whole, I'm not dissatisfied, but I know that we can play better," said Stöger as he reflected on the victory. His primary objective from the remaining days in Marbella is to work with his coaching staff on the team's offensive play. "We want to increase the tempo in the play," he said. "That means disposing of the ball more quickly and getting in behind the defence more." The next training session is pencilled in for Saturday morning.
Raphael Guerreiro takes a knock
Whether Raphael Guerreiro will be involved remains uncertain. The Portugal international was forced off with a thigh problem in the opening minutes of the clash with Düsseldorf and will undergo an extensive examination this evening. "He felt something wasn't quite right and we don't want to take risks at this stage," explained Stöger.
Individual session for Auba
Among those who didn't feature on Saturday was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international only arrived at the team hotel on Friday night and trained individually. "It wouldn't have made sense for him to play in a match on the very first day," said Stöger. He did however get a workout alongside his team-mates on the training pitch this morning.
Philipp uploads rehab video
In other news, Maximilian Philipp was active on Instagram on Saturday. The 23-year-old, who faces a spell of several months out of action after suffering a serious knee injury, posted a video in which he was completing exercises in the gym. Philipp remained in Dortmund as the team headed to Marbella, and is completing his rehab in Germany.