Borussia Dortmund will play their first competitive match of the 2021/22 season on Saturday, when they travel to SV Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB-Pokal first round (kick-off at 20:45 CET). It will be the first step of BVB's title defence and Marco Rose's first competitive game as the club's head coach.
"I haven't gone beyond the quarter-finals to date. I once missed a penalty in Velbert and we were eliminated. Two years ago in Dortmund, I wasn't able to stay pitchside for the final two minutes because I was given a red card," recalled BVB boss Marco Rose, adding: "My history in the cup hasn't been all that exciting so far. I would therefore be delighted if we can write a good story together as a club, as a team and as the reigning title holders."
86 days separate May's triumph in Berlin and the start of the title defence in Wiesbaden on Saturday. "When you win the title, it should whet the appetite for more. It's extraordinary to win a title like that and it does something to the team," Rose said. "But there's no point talking about it if you don't show the desire, the will and the readiness to do it again." The 44-year-old believes his team must be ready to defend their DFB-Pokal title from day one.
Opponents Wiesbaden have already been in competitive action, playing two matches in the third tier. Both games – away to Freiburg II and at home to 1860 Munich – were goalless draws, leaving the team in 11th place in what is at this early stage a relatively meaningless table.
"It's the cup; it'll be a battle. Wiesbaden will give it everything," said Rose of the opposition. "Perhaps they sense the opportunity to catch us out. We need to be alert and well-prepared. We'll experience a high degree of resistance." That said, his team are still the favourites and the goal remains to advance to the next round.
The coach will not have a full squad at his disposal though. The European Championship participants have gradually been returning to the squad over the past few weeks, but not all of them have been able to take part in team training yet. According to the coach, Mats Hummels will hopefully commence running training soon. Raphael Guerreiro and Emre Can took part in running training on Wednesday – though neither will be ready to feature on Saturday. "But we have a big enough squad to deal with that. We'll focus on what we can influence," said Rose. In defence, the coach will be able to count on Nico Schulz, Felix Passlack, Manuel Akanji and U23 players Antonios Papadopoulos and Lennard Maloney, who have formed the central defensive partnership in the last three friendlies.
The other EURO participants "have all come back from their holidays in good condition. We now have to see who we can bring back a little earlier. Axel Witsel had a remarkable European Championship after his injury, while Thorgan Hazard is in good form." Rose believes there is a chance Donyell Malen could feature on Saturday too: "We've already seen in training what a great footballer he is."
There have been no new additions to the list of absentees following the two positive corona tests for Thomas Meunier and Julian Brandt, with all of the PCR tests conducted today coming back negative.