Six weeks to the day since the first team training session, Borussia Dortmund will play their first competitive match of the 2020/21 season. Third-tier outfit MSV Duisburg are the opponents in the DFB Cup First Round.
The BVB team spent their pre-season preparing intensively in Dortmund and during a training camp in Bad Ragaz. The Black & Yellows played their first two friendlies in Switzerland, and in total head coach Lucien Favre had the opportunity to observe his players across seven fixtures. Three wins in the opening friendlies were followed by two defeats and a draw, before BVB ran out 2-1 winners in their dress rehearsal against Sparta Rotterdam last Monday.
Dortmund also faced cup opponents Duisburg during their pre-season preparations, with the Black & Yellows emerging as clear winners. They were 2-0 ahead after a quarter of an hour and the lead was increased to 3-0 before the half-hour mark. By the time the 60-minute match finished, BVB were 5-1 up courtesy of goals from Reyna, Hazard, Sancho and Knauff (two). But Sebastian Kehl, head of the licensed player division, believes the cup tie will be a different kettle of fish altogether. "They'll approach this game differently. We should be warned."
Their opponents from the Ruhr – the Dortmund and Duisburg stadiums are separated by only 48 kilometres as the crow flies – were competing for promotion to the Bundesliga 2 last season and ended the campaign in fifth place.
Lucien Favre is delighted about the restart. "Our preparations were good. It's time that we get back to competitive action." In the best-case scenario, the Duisburg clash will be the first of six wins on the way to lifting the DFB Cup. "We want to win the cup," said the head coach, who added: "It doesn't bring you anything to get to the second or third round and then get knocked out." In the last two seasons, Borussia Dortmund have been eliminated from the competition in the Round of 16.
Favre remained coy when asked which players would be given the task of getting through the first round of the competition. Marwin Hitz was handed the nod between the sticks in the cup last term, but the coach did not want to confirm the division of labour between the back-up goalie and regular shot-stopper Roman Bürki for the coming campaign. In other news, all the players who were away with their countries have returned from their international duty in good condition, meaning the coach has no additional injuries to contend with. Thomas Meunier used his time away with the Belgian national team to resume training and get some match practice after having torn muscle fibres. He is in contention for the starting XI. New signing Reinier, who started training with the team relatively late on, will certainly be in the squad.
Captain Marco Reus only made the comeback from the injury that he suffered in the February cup exit to Werder Bremen in last week's friendly fixture against Sparta Rotterdam. "It's fun to see him back on the pitch again. He's worked very well recently," declared Favre.