“Ingolstadt are not representative of the kind of team typically propping up the table,” Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said after his side’s 2-1 win at Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League back in October.
BVB were then held to a 3-3 draw against Markus Kauczinski’s men, possibly the result of a hangover following their success in Europe.
Two weeks later, the Westphalians once again travel to the Bundesliga’s bottom-ranked side following more Champions League joy, as Wednesday’s 1-0 win at home to Sporting wrapped up qualification for the round of 16.
BVB meet bogey team Hamburger SV on Saturday, a side they’ve struggled against on the road in recent years. Unlike Ingolstadt, they look exactly like a team typically propping up the table, considering their seven defeats and two draws in their last nine.
Dortmund arrive at Volksparkstadion desperate for three points after failing to pick up a win in October. They have fallen down to sixth in the Bundesliga after one defeat and three draws from their last four matches, and already trail second-placed RB Leipzig by six points.
“It’s important that we get three points in Hamburg on Saturday,” Mario Gotze said after beating Sporting.
After events in Ingolstadt, however, history could easily repeat itself. Despite Hamburg’s chronically bad form in recent years, they have still managed to find ways to shock BVB, whose last win on Hamburg turf came in 2012. Markus Gisdol, the club’s seventh manager since BVB’s 5-1 win by the river Elbe, has claimed his men are ready to “make the impossible possible”.
To add to the superstition, the match will take place on the 80th birthday of HSV’s most famous icon, Uwe Seeler. Hamburg have pedigree for troubling the league’s best, too. They came close to holding Bayern Munich to a scoreless draw on Sept. 24 until a piece of Franck Ribery magic allowed Joshua Kimmich to win it in the 88th minute.
Meanwhile, the Black and Yellows have reacted allergically to teams that have roughed them up in recent games — Leipzig, Leverkusen and Ingolstadt just to mention a few.
“We expect a highly emotional, diligent and intense HSV,” Tuchel told journalists at Friday’s news conference.
Backed against the wall, Hamburg will come out all guns blazing against a Dortmund side that have failed to keep their levels of intensity for more than 45 minutes in any of their last seven games.
Tuchel warned: “We have to fight back and decide the match by our individual quality after the war of attrition; not the other way around.”
The Dortmund coach will have to win without team captain Marcel Schmelzer, who only returned to team training on Thursday and won’t make the trip. Neither will Nuri Sahin, due to a stomach bug. Raphael Guerreiro, who filled in for Schmelzer on Wednesday, is doubtful after picking up a knock in midweek, while Tuchel has insisted that winger Andre Schurrle won’t have enough in his tank for 90 minutes on Saturday.
Tuchel, however, is confident star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will shake off the furore surrounding his one-game suspension. The Gabon striker was expelled from the squad following a short trip to Milan on Monday without the club’s permission.
“The issue was done and dusted with the final whistle against Sporting,” Tuchel explained.
“The trusting relationship between Aubameyang, me and the team will remain intact.”
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