The mid-season training camp in Marbella came to a strange yet successful end on Monday: Teddy de Beer was forced to improvise in the absence of all three goalkeepers, whose place was subsequently taken by a youngster in the second friendly win in Spain, while three sorely missed key players all made their comeback against Zulte Waregem.
Jan-Philip Kirschke reporting from Marbella
It was a memorable afternoon for Lukasz Piszczek, who made his long-awaited comeback for BVB exactly 100 days since his last appearance. The Poland international delivered a typically strong performance in the right-back berth and scored the first goal as the Black & Yellows narrowly beat Belgian top-flight side SV Zulte Waregem 3-2 in the second and final friendly of their training camp. So hardly a normal day at the office for the 32-year-old, who was understandably delighted after the game. "The fact Gonzo's corner came right to me was lucky," he said with a wink, before subsequently declaring how happy he was to be back after such a long time out: "I'm happy to finally be playing football again and am now only looking forwards."
Three key performers back
Coach Peter Stöger was equally satisfied: "It was a successful friendly, because it showed us that the lads who were out for a longer period of time are a real option for us at the weekend. That's the most important thing we take from this period in Marbella." In addition to Piszczek, provider Gonzalo Castro and World Cup winner Mario Götze both made their first BVB appearances following a lengthy spell on the sidelines and, by doing so, have put themselves in contention for a starting berth when the Bundesliga campaign resumes against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday.
"A step forward"
For Stöger, the friendly against Zulte Waregem was a real step forward despite numerous absences as a result of a gastrointestinal virus in the camp. "Our chance conversion still has some room for improvement and we did have some problems from set-pieces, but in terms of our movement and attacking play we already looked better than we did the day before yesterday against Düsseldorf," said the Austrian, who is expecting the ill players – Nuri Sahin, Ömer Toprak, Christian Pulisic, Jacob Bruun Larsen and the goalkeepers – to be back with the team on Thursday.
Coping without goalkeepers
Teddy de Beer will certainly be hoping so. The 53-year-old experienced one of his stranger days as the BVB goalkeeping coach on Monday, having never before been without all three shot-stoppers. Roman Bürki, Roman Weidenfeller and Dominik Reimann were all suffering from the stomach bug, meaning that youngsters Eike Bansen and Jan Reckert flew out to link up with the squad at the last minute. "I've never experienced something like this in 17 years," admitted de Beer, who was delighted with the performance of 19-year-old Bansen, who performed well for 90 minutes.
Sweating in the heavy rain
Despite the match scheduled for the afternoon and the heavy rainfall, Stöger put his team through one last training session in Marbella on Monday morning. Sixteen players completed an intense 60-minute work-out with lots of running and passing drills in confined spaces. Marco Reus, who joined in with parts of team training while in Spain but was not fit enough to feature in the friendlies, completed a second session in the gym in the afternoon.
Heading home on Tuesday
BVB will not be training in Marbella on Tuesday as planned, but will instead begin their return journey to Dortmund in the morning. "Given the prevailing pitch conditions and the weather forecast for tomorrow, we've made the decision to take a slightly earlier return flight," explained Sporting Director Michael Zorc.