The Borussia Dortmund U23s are set to host Rot-Weiss Essen at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK on Saturday (13 August, kick-off 14:00 CET). It is hoped that a record crowd will help the Black & Yellows to a first win of the season.
Back in the 2020/21 Regionalliga season, Borussia Dortmund and Rot-Weiss Essen were locked in a tight battle for promotion. The neck-and-neck race came down to the last day of the season - and in the end, it was the Black & Yellows who prevailed. Franz Pfanne recalls: ''That was really intense, emotional and exhausting. Fortunately it ended in our favour.''
One year later, the Regionalliga went right down to the wire once again. But this time, RWE managed to just edge out Preußen Münster in the race for promotion. ''I was happy to see them make it. Obviously we had a big rivalry with them the year before. But enough time has passed for me to put that into perspective,'' says the BVB captain diplomatically.
Now the local rivals are going head-to-head in the third tier, this time under completely different circumstances. Both have had a rough start to the season, with only one point to their names in each case. In Pfanne's words: "Of course we're not satisfied with our results. But you have to be realistic about it. We lost to two absolutely top teams. Ingolstadt and Saarbrücken will most likely finish right at the top of the table."
While the team suffered a deserved defeat against Ingolstadt, they put in a very committed performance in Saarbrücken and were extremely unlucky to lose through a goal conceded in injury time. According to the U23 captain, the game during the week was encouraging, despite the disappointing outcome: "If we perform like that again, I am confident that we will get something on Saturday, even though it's going to be tough. Essen are perhaps under a bit more pressure and will be looking to shake it off with a win over us.''
In terms of personnel, coach Christian Preußer has more options ahead of the showdown with the Red & Whites. Prince Aning and Guillermo Bueno, who have both been sidelined recently with injuries, are on their way back to full fitness. The long-term absentees Justin Njinmah and Marco Pasalic were able to make their comeback in Saarbrücken and showed promising signs of their ability to sharpen the Black & Yellows' offensive play. This is the main area for improvement, with only one goal scored in three games. Being more clinical in front of goal is a prerequisite if BVB are to secure their first three points of the season and get a home win for the first time since February 2021.
Pfanne is confident: "It's about time we won again. Playing in a stadium like this, what more do you want as a player? It's just great fun to play here in SIGNAL IDUNA PARK - especially when it's full." As far as the crowd is concerned, things are looking good. So far, advance sales are going well, and the U23s are striving for a new attendance record. The current record of 9,999 spectators dates back to 2014 and could well be topped on Saturday. Back then, BVB won 5-1 against Jahn Regensburg, and I'm sure no one in the Black & Yellow family would object to a similar scoreline this time around.
To find out more about the game against Rot-Weiss Essen, listen to the latest edition of our BVB-Podcast. Our guest was the U23 coach, Christian Preußer, who looked ahead with excitement to the clash with RWE.