The list of absentees appears to be shortening ahead of the trip to Wolfsburg and the first "English week" since the resumption of the Bundesliga. "Emre Can and Gio Reyna trained fully today. They'll be involved," announced head coach Lucien Favre prior to the final training session on Friday.
The Swiss tactician reserved special praise for the stand-in defensive midfield duo, which usually consists of Axel Witsel and Emre Can. Thomas Delaney and Mo Dahoud "performed very well against Schalke," said Favre, adding: "They formed an okay partnership."
The quartet of Axel Witsel, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Nico Schulz and Marco Reus will still be unavailable for the match in Wolfsburg on Saturday (kick-off at 15:30 CET, live on Sky and the Net Radio). "He's not yet been able to train with the team," said Favre of his captain. "Nonetheless, we're hoping he returns as quickly as possible and that he can help us out before the end of the season."
At the press conference, Favre was asked about Mario Götze's chances of game time. "We're currently playing a 3-4-3," explained the coach. "That's not the ideal system for him." But the 62-year-old added: "We have many matches. We're counting on all the players. Let's see." Götze could very quickly find himself in demand again in the upcoming "English week". Sporting director Michael Zorc said: "We'll need every player in the squad until the end of June, at which point the season will hopefully be finished!"
One player currently ahead of Götze in the pecking order is Julian Brandt, who had a hand in all four goals against Schalke. "He can play multiple positions in multiple systems. That in itself is a great quality. He's performing very, very well," lauded the coach, who subsequently went on to list all the positions that Brandt has already played this season. "I really like that. It offers us coaches solutions. He's extremely dangerous going forward." Michael Zorc added admiringly: "I've rarely seen a player who has so much potential. And he can still get even better."
Brandt and Co. are in for a stern test on Saturday, when they come up against the so-called "team of the moment". VfL Wolfsburg are unbeaten in seven matches. "They've gradually established their team and are very stable," said Favre of the next adversary. "Wolfsburg will be significantly more difficult than the home game against Schalke was," explained Zorc. "Wolfsburg are in a very good condition and are competing for the European berths."
Another topic covered at the press conference was the muscular injuries that have been plaguing a raft of clubs – including Borussia Dortmund – since the league restarted following the corona-induced break to the season. It's "not a big surprise" in the eyes of Lucien Favre, who said: "Six to eight weeks ago we started training in groups of two and four." There was only a small time window between permission being granted for full-contact training sessions with tackling and the first competitive game.
The intensity is only going to increase from this point. The Wolfsburg match will be followed by a top-of-the-table clash with Bayern Munich only three days later. "But for now our entire focus will be on the match in Wolfsburg!" declared Favre. (br)