The away match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday is the start of some high-intensity weeks for Borussia Dortmund: there are a total of seven matches on the fixture list in the next three weeks before the next international break in November.

This week's international matches are still having a knock-on effect and are making preparations for the Hoffenheim match more difficult. Some national players will only return from their travels on Thursday, two days before the match, and will have to be tested before they can train with their teammates again. 

"We have to accept it as it is. It's a difficult situation," says sporting director Michael Zorc, in view of the tight schedule. "The coach has to improvise a lot because you never know which players will be available. But there is no alternative. It doesn't help to be complaining constantly – we just have to accept the situation as it is."

The fact that we have very little time to prepare "does not make the situation easy, but we have been able to prepare ourselves for that," said Sebastian Kehl, head of the licensed player division. "The coach is thinking a lot about how to handle the personnel situation. But our squad has so much strength in depth that there are a number of different scenarios."

Midfielder Thorgan Hazard has started running again, but is not yet an option for Saturday. The strain is mainly on the defensive side of the squad. In addition to the long-term injuries Dan-Axel Zagadou and Nico Schulz, Manuel Akanji, who has to remain in quarantine after his coronavirus infection, is unavailable for selection. Mateu Morey had been able to start training again in during international break before an infection stopped him in his tracks. However, the defender has been back on the training ground for the past two days. We will have to wait Saturday in Hoffenheim to see how Favre sets up his back line.

BVB have gone a total of seven games without a win against the hosts. "It has always been hard for us against Hoffenheim," said Favre. Last season, Dortmund lost both matches against TSG: in the first half of the season, Dortmund lost 1-2 away (Favre: "We could have won, we were the better team"), before the 0-4 defeat in the home game on the last day of the season. In the season before, the teams played out two draws (1-1, 3-3).  However, BVB still come out narrowly ahead in the head-to-head record in the Bundesliga with eight wins, nine draws and seven defeats.

Hoffenheim have started the 2020/21 Bundesliga season under the new coach Sebastian Hoeness with two victories (away to Cologne, at home against Munich) and one defeat (away to Frankfurt). The team from the Kraichgau currently lie in sixth place in the table, with the same amount of points as BVB, but behind Dortmund on goal difference.

Christina Reinke