The Borussia Dortmund U23s resumed training on Thursday morning following a break of more than two weeks over the festive period. Coach Enrico Maaßen's charges had last been in action in the Regionalliga West shortly before Christmas.
The winter break was "shorter than ever before", according to team manager Ingo Preuß. In truth, there's not all that much time to prepare for the second half of the season, which is set to start with a game against Alemannia Aachen on 17 January. The home game against the men from Aachen will kick off at 15:00 CET at the Dortmund-Brackel training centre. It has not yet been determined whether this venue will be used for further fixtures.
The Black & Yellows want to be as well prepared as possible for the resumption of competitive action next week. The batteries have been recharged and the focus is solely on the all-important training sessions, which coach Maaßen wants to use to work on topics such as pressing and efficiency. "We'll make the best-possible use of our brief preparation period and determine specific focal points for every day," Maaßen explained.
BVB will go into the second half of the campaign in second spot, though they do have a game against the Borussia Mönchengladbach reserves in hand which will be played on 27 January. The Black & Yellows are in a very healthy position in the table, having taken 44 points and scored 48 goals – the most of any club in the division – in their 19 matches to date. As well as possessing the best attack, BVB have the second-best defensive record too with only 14 goals conceded. Only league leaders RW Essen have seen their defence breached fewer times (12). The gap to third placed Fortuna Cologne currently stands at seven points. Behind them are Fortuna Düsseldorf II and Preußen Münster. "It's a tough start to the second half-season. The games against Aachen and Cologne in the first half-season were both close. It'll be exactly the same in the return fixtures. Plus there's the game in hand against Mönchengladbach," Maaßen said.
Among those not present when training resumed was captain and centre-forward Steffen Tigges. The 22-year-old has made a lasting impression with the first team. Having made his first start and played the full 90 minutes against Eintracht Braunschweig in the cup shortly before Christmas, he was handed a cameo appearance in the Bundesliga home game against VfL Wolfsburg. Tigges now trains with the first team and resumed training significantly earlier than his team-mates. "Steffen has taken full advantage of his chance. He has produced a good performance in both games. We're delighted for him," said Maaßen. "He now needs to continue where he left off and keep it up."
The U23s have one training session on the agenda every day this week. There will then be a day off on Monday, before the real preparations for the Aachen game begin on Tuesday. In addition to facing Alemannia, the Black & Yellows have the following fixtures to fulfil in January:
- 23/01/2021 (14:00 CET): 1. FC Cologne U23s (A)
- 27/01/2021 (14:00 CET): Borussia Mönchengladbach U23s (A)
- 30/01/2021 (14:00 CET): VfL Sportfreunde Lotte (H)