Personnel issues at the back, spoilt for choice in attack. "We'll be creative and find a good solution one way or another," said Lucien Favre on the evening before the UEFA Champions League group stage opener against Lazio in Rome (Tuesday, 21:00 CET). The decision as to whether Lukasz Piszczek, who suffered an eye injury in Sinsheim on Saturday, is able to play will be taken on the day of the match itself.
"It would be fantastic if he could play. That would significantly ease our problems in defence," explained Sebastian Kehl. The head of the licensed player division continued: "He is doing considerably better. He absolutely wants to be involved." A final examination is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
It would certainly suit Mats Hummels – the only remaining central defender given the absences of Emre Can, Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou – if there was no need for an entirely new-look back three. For Thomas Meunier, who is the last remaining option for the eventuality that Piszczek is not available to play, it would only be his second ever competitive match in the centre of defence – but nobody at BVB will have anything to worry about if he is able to fulfil the role as well as Thomas Delaney did when he debuted in the position in Sinsheim. "It will depend on us communicating a lot with each other and helping each other out a lot verbally," said centre-back Hummels.
The opposition's strengths (also) lie in their attacking players, with former Black & Yellow Ciro Immobile in outstanding form for some time now. Hummels, who knows him from their time together as team-mates, revealed that "the best way to stop any good striker is by giving him as few opportunities as possible. Ciro has been ruthless in front of goal for the past few years." Kehl added: "Ciro stands out. We will especially need to keep him totally in check."
"Fortunately, we don't have any additional injury absentees after the match in Hoffenheim," said the head of the licensed player division, thus allowing head coach Lucien Favre the opportunity to rotate in midfield and attack. The game in Rome is the second of seven BVB matches to be played at three-day intervals.
Speaking about the opposition and the club's aspirations, Kehl said: "All in all, Lazio have not made a good start to the season. Nonetheless, they have a very dangerous, very experienced team and will be delighted to return to the Champions League after many years. But we have good reason to hope we can go through in this group. We need to start that process tomorrow. If we produce a really good performance, we'll at least pick up a point."
The referee is the Frenchman Clément Turpin. The 38-year-old oversaw BVB's home game against Tottenham in the group stages in 2017 (a 2-1 defeat) and the away match in Barcelona last term (a 3-1 loss).