Eight goals, two wins, six points - Borussia Dortmund have been in majestic form since the international break. Lucien Favre's side will close out an action-packed week of football when they host 1. FC Cologne at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Last weekend, the Black & Yellows stormed to a 5-2 win away to Hertha BSC, while on Tuesday, they triumphed 3-0 at home to Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League. Borussia are currently placed second in the Bundesliga and occupy the top spot in their Champions League group. ''Overall, we have an excellent balance between attack and defence, between creative artists and players who get the job done. We can seamlessly switch up our style of play in the middle of a game too,'' said sporting director Michael Zorc as he discussed the team's development over the course of the current season, adding: ''What I like the most is that we have real spirit in the team. The group have that real desire to succeed.'' Zorc's instructions to the team are clear: always stay focused on the next match, score goals down the offensive end of the park and try to keep a clean sheet in defence. "The focus is there. We've made progress in this regard, but now we have to keep proving it,'' said Zorc.
BVB have also been bolstered by the fact that very few players have missed games through injury this season. "Having so little in the way of injury problems has of course been very important. We speak with the physios and the fitness coaches a lot. We're also in a position to rotate,'' said Lucien Favre, who has almost the entire squad at his disposal for the meeting with Cologne.
Dan-Axel Zagadou has returned to team training after his knee injury, but an appearance against Cologne is nonetheless unrealistic. He is likely to be an option again in the weeks to come. Raphael Guerreiro came off against Brugge after suffering a light knock: ''We saw who he's getting on today,'' said Favre on the subject of the Portuguese full-back. The Swiss coach is likely to deploy the seemingly tireless Erling Haaland again on Saturday. The prolific striker will be given a break ''as late as possible,'' said Favre.
Haaland has played 13 games for BVB so far this season, scoring 17 goals in the process. Six of these goals have come in the past two matches. ''Erling gives off such positive energy. The way he just goes out and plays is so so valuable for us,'' said Zorc in praise of the striker, who had a vital role to play in the Black & Yellows' most recent meeting with Cologne: The 5-1 win at the end of January was Haaland's home debut for BVB. On that day, the Norwegian provided two assists and scored a remarkable goal from an extremely tight angle to bring the score to 5-1.
Saturday's visitors will make the trip to SIGNAL IDUNA PARK placed 17th in the Bundesliga table. Their 2-1 home defeat to Union Berlin last weekend meant they slipped into the direct relegation places for the first time this season. Cologne have just three points to their name and are currently on a run of 18 league matches without a win stretching back into the previous campaign.
''The negative statistics don't say all that much to me. For example, Cologne lost 2-1 against Bayern, and that was undeserved. All of their matches that I've watched recently have been very close,'' commented Favre, going on to say: ''They're very well organised, very hard to play against. But of course we want to win this game and pick up three points.''
Michael Zorc then added: ''Our approach and our focus will be decisive. We have to take the next step.''