The Borussia Dortmund U23s will be away to SSV Ulm on Saturday (14:00 CET). As Ulm's stadium does not possess undersoil heating, SSV must play their home games in Aalen – which is more than an away hour – up until the end of February.

Last Sunday was a very special day for Dennis Lütke-Frie. The now 20-year-old made his delayed debut in senior football following a one-and-a-half-year spell on the sidelines. Flashback: 29 May 2022 was probably the best day of Dennis Lütke-Frie's life to date. The midfielder led the BVB U19s onto the field for the German Championship Final, which the Black & Yellows won 2-1 away to Hertha BSC, as captain. He was then promoted to the U23s, where he wanted to hit the ground running. But things turned out differently: a torn lateral collateral ligament and two metatarsal fractures in succession kept the BVB youngster sidelined for the entirety of the 2022/23 campaign and a large part of the first half of this season.

Lütke-Frie was finally able to make his debut last Sunday: coach Jan Zimmermann brought on his midfielder as a substitute in the 90th minute of the home game against 1860 Munich and gave him his first minutes of senior football in the process. "Finally, a year and a half of suffering is over," commented Lütke-Frie, who felt a sense of relief in the moment. "I'm happy to be back on the pitch now and to be without any problems."

The 20-year-old, who has played for BVB since 2011, is finally looking to the future with positivity: "I'm noticing progress from week to week in training. I want to stay fit first of all and then, of course, keep getting better."

In last Sunday's game, Lütke-Frie played alongside Silas Ostrzinksi and Samuel Bamba – two players with whom he became a German U19 champion in 2022. In Lion Semic, a third former team-mate from that triumph was on the bench. For Ostrzinski, the clash with 1860 was his first appearance of the season. The 20-year-old, who has been keeping goal for the Black & Yelows since 2018, held his nerve in snowy conditions at the Rote Erde and impressed with some strong saves against the Lions. Ostrzinski will also between the posts for Dortmund in Aalen on Saturday. "It won't be an easy game away from home. The important thing will be to build on last Sunday's performance there." But the Unna native wants more: "My personal objective is to perform during the winter preparations and to earn even more playing time in the process." That ambition will please coach Jan Zimmermann.

But Ostrzinski and his team-mates will first turn their full focus onto the game in Aalen on Saturday. SSV Ulm played one season in the Bundesliga in 1999/2000. Following their insolvency in 2001, they fell away big-time. Ulm returned to professional football as champions of the Regionalliga Südwest at the end of last season. Thomas Wörle has been the coach since the summer of 2021.

One man who knows both SSV Ulm and BVB particularly well is Philipp Laux. The now 50-year-old kept goal for Ulm between 1994 and 2000. In the 1993/94 campaign and then from 2000 to 2002, Laux plied his trade for BVB and became a German champion in 2002. Laux has worked as a sports psychologist for BVB since 2020.
Daniel Mertens