It’s going to be a test of bench strength when Borussia Dortmund host arch-rivals Bayern Munich at the Signul Iduna Park for the 2017 DFL-Supercup on Saturday.
A sell-out crowd of 81,360 awaits the Bundesliga giants, but with plenty of regular stars on both sides injured, it remains to be seen how opposing coaches Peter Bosz and Carlo Ancelotti will cope.
The annual fixture, seemingly always contested by Die Borussen and Bayern, is a confidence booster and while the Bavarians hold an edge, an underwhelming pre-season would have given Dortmund hope of an upset.
Bayern may have been stuttering in pre-season, but Dortmund haven't exactly shattered any records themselves. A 3-1 win over AC Milan aside, Bosz’s men have struggled to hit top gear so far.
Without Marco Reus, they are looking a little toothless in attack, the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will look to remedy that.
Dembele, linked with a move to Barcelona, had a strong debut season and with all eyes on him, the 20-year-old will strive to produce a performance that lives up to the hype.
Mario Gotze is in line to make a cameo and the crafty midfielder will want to prove to the world that he’s recovered from his metabolic disorder. Look for an impactful appearance from the bench against his old club, for 25-year-old won’t be lacking in motivation.
Key personnel are injured, yes, but that cannot be an excuse for the 2017 DFB-Pokal winners if they are to take the fight to Bayern this season. And this is the perfect chance to get bragging rights early in the season, in front of their own fans no less.
Talking Corner: I’m looking forward to my first match at the Signal Iduna Park. Big matches are always interesting. We want to win it- Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz
Injury concerns: Marco Reus (knee), Marcel Schmelzer (knee), Raphael Guerreiro (ankle), Eric Durm (muscular problem), Emre Mor (muscular problem)
Suspension Alert: None
Carlo Ancelotti had an underwhelming first season by his own and Munich’s standards, lifting a single trophy, the Bundesliga, and the same will not be tolerated a second time round.
Losses to AC Milan, Inter Milan, Liverpool and Napoli have raised questions about the Italian’s tactics and he is under severe pressure to win Saturday’s tie.
Bayern’s injury problems aren't making it better, with Thiago Alcantara and summer signing James Rodriguez ruled out. Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben are back in training and could make it to the match day squad at the least, but it will fall to Robert Lewandowski to lead the line against his former club again.
Thomas Muller will be giving the Pole company and the lanky German is at a crucial stage of his career. At 27, he should be in his prime but after an underwhelming 2016-17 campaign, doubts over his ability to play for an elite club like Bayern have come up.
Saturday’s final will also be crucial for Portuguese teen Renato Sanches, for he struggled for playing time under Ancelotti last season. With so many players injured, the dreadlocked midfielder has to prove to his boss that he’s ready and a strong showing against Bayern’s arch-rivals would put him in the manager’s good books.
Talking Corner: Dortmund always have a strong team and we’re looking forward to this game-Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich (as per FCBayern.tv)
Injury concerns: Manuel Neuer (foot), James Rodriguez (thigh), Thiago Alcantara (stomach), Juan Bernat (ankle), David Alaba (knock), Arjen Robben (match fitness), Jerome Boateng (match fitness)
Suspension Alert: None
Super Stat: Dortmund and Bayern jointly hold the record for the most number of DFL-Supercup titles (five)!