Borussia Dortmund are still unbeaten in 2021. Having won against Wolfsburg and Leipzig in the last two rounds, they will be targeting their third triumph against Mainz on Saturday (15:30 CET). "We said that January would be defining and that every game is important," said head coach Edin Terzic. "It was a very good step in Leipzig, but it gets us nowhere if we don't continue seamlessly where we left off."
While the games came thick and fast in the run-up to Christmas, there has yet to be an English week this year. "We said at the beginning of the year that we could work on several things in training. To that end, we're fortunate to have been able to train normally the last three weeks," explained the coach. "We wanted to up the intensity. It's not only important what happens on game day, but on training days too. We try to live that way throughout the week."
In 2021, BVB have beaten two teams – Wolfsburg and Leipzig – who were ahead of the Black & Yellows in the table prior to kick-off. Furthermore, the fact Dortmund were the only team in the Bundesliga's top six to record a win last weekend means they were able to narrow the gap to the clubs directly above them. "We must not let it be that come Saturday evening, we're in the same position we were in last Friday evening. We want to take advantage of the fact we can improve our table position and take the next step," Terzic remarked.
For basement boys Mainz, Bo Svensson is already the fourth head coach this season. Svensson made his debut in the dugout last weekend, which means that "the preparations are not all that easy because we don't know what their philosophy will be," said Terzic. But as they do for every opponent, the coaching staff will watch several matches – including the game against Bayern Munich, in which the Zero-Fivers threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 5-2. "We're not looking at where Mainz are in the table; we're looking at what they're capable of and where their strengths lie. They showcased that impressively in the first half in Munich, and again against Frankfurt last week when they were very unlucky to lose," Terzic said. "You can see what kind of performance they're capable of. The game against Bayern is a warning for us. But the biggest warning is our last home game against Mainz 05." BVB lost that match in June 2020 2-0.
It seems as though the coach will be without Axel Witsel, who has torn his Achilles tendon, not only for the Mainz match but probably until the end of the season. "Axel is an unbelievably good player and incredibly important. He's an excellent person. Even though he's not the loudest voice in the dressing room, Axel is held in very high regard within the team." Marcel Schmelzer and Thorgan Hazard, who could return to action at the start of February, are also still unavailable.
Jude Bellingham's prospects look better. The midfielder returned to team training this week and could be included in the matchday squad against Mainz.