A real cracker awaits Borussia Dortmund on the opening day of the 60th Bundesliga season. The runners-up from last season will host Bayer Leverkusen, who finished in fourth place, on Saturday. Kick-off at a sold-out 81,365-capacity SIGNAL IDUNA PARK is at 18:30 CET.
The fact that the opening-day opposition are Leverkusen, a team that deployed a counter-attacking strategy to perfection at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK last season and ran out 5-2 winners, is of secondary importance to Edin Terzic. "We play each of the other 17 teams twice. The order is of less interest to us. We're much more looking ahead to a really good game and a really good opponent."
Eradicating defensive vulnerabilities has been one of the focal points throughout pre-season. "One of the goals we came away with is the willingness to work collectively off the ball and defend the goal with greater seriousness. We hope to already see that on Saturday." Terzic expects there to be some similarities to the previous clash. "I can imagine that they will want to replicate some of the things they did well that day." He will make sure to relay that message to his team separately.
Süle back to face Freiburg? Özcan to be involved on Saturday?
It does not seem as though Bayer 04 have huge potential to surprise: the coach (Gerardo Seoane) is the same, the players have mostly stayed and are used to one another. It's different at BVB, who could play in a 4-3-3, a 4-2-3-1 or with a back three and two forwards. Anything is possible, despite Niklas Süle's absence. That said, his recovery is going very well. "He's already pain-free and working under a light load." Süle was substituted last Friday in the cup match away to 1860 Munich due to a thigh strain. Felix Passlack and Tom Rothe are not yet ready for action either. But Salih Özcan is making rapid progress. "We are increasing the load bit by bit. There are still two sessions to go," Terzic said at midday on Thursday. "Then we'll decide whether he's ready or not."
That would mean Özcan being among the new signings making their BVB home debut as Black & Yellows – with the Yellow Wall behind them. "It will be a special day for them and for the whole team," Terzic said. He is looking forward to the special energy which the stadium can generate and which will hopefully carry Borussia Dortmund to their first three points in the opening game of the season. "We're ready to send out a first statement of intent!" Terzic declared.