Julian Brandt, a midfielder for Borussia Dortmund, maintains that if players want to remain on the team, they must take it easy. Since the World Cup/winter break, the German team has amassed six straight victories in competitive play, scoring at least twice in each game. However, Brandt believes that the team’s quality is too high to slow down and made the lighthearted remark last weekend that “we cannot act like an otter now, lie on our backs and relax.”
With a virtually fully healthy roster at his disposal, manager Edin Terzi has been helped, and as a result, his team has climbed to within three points of the Bundesliga’s top spot. However, the UEFA Champions League (UCL) takes precedence this week as Chelsea makes its debut at Signal Iduna Park. Terzi will be all too aware that in order to establish a foundation for advancement, his team urgently needs to improve on a winless record from their last twelve matches against British clubs (D3, L9).
The Blues, who travel to Germany in terrible shape, may fancy their chances of breaking that streak against “Die Borussen.” The London team has only won once in eight games in 2023 (D4, L3) after Saturday’s laborious 1-1 stalemate with West Ham. Equally concerning is the fact that they have failed to score more than once in any of those contests despite having an abundance of attacking resources at their disposal.
However, under pressure, manager Graham Potter might become the first English manager to win five straight UCL games. He is nonetheless convinced that his team can advance to the quarterfinals and has tasked his players to give their all in order to “earn the right to win.” He will be aware that Chelsea has had a spotty history in the UCL round of 16, only making it past this stage of the competition twice in the previous six attempts.
Emre Can of Dortmund has seen three of his four home one-on-one head-to-head matches with Chelsea result in draws, despite his team scoring first in each of those games. He will try to stop Kai Havertz, who has a dismal record against the German team, suffering a career-high five losses in seven head-to-head matches (W1, D1).
Hot fact: In their last six home matches during the UCL last-16 round, Dortmund have lost three games (W2, D1).
Sebastian Haller or Anthony Modeste are anticipated to lead the line as a result of Youssoufa Moukoko, a starlet for Borussia Dortmund, being forced off with an injury during the victory over Bremen.
Mateu Morey (fitness), Abdoulaye Kamara (knee), and Marius Wolf (shoulder) are all out, while Thomas Meunier (muscle strain) is back and will compete with January newcomer Julian Ryerson for a spot at right-back.
In-demand teenager Jude Bellingham, who has scored four goals in five Champions League games this season, is expected to show off his skills in center-midfield. Attacker Karim Adeyemi is also available for selection after serving a domestic suspension in the win against Bremen.
While Aubameyang, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana, and Andrey Santos are ineligible due to being left out of Potter’s Champions League squad, Chelsea is still without N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Christian Pulisic, Armando Broja (both knee), and Edouard Mendy (finger) due to injuries.
Raheem Sterling (knee), Wesley Fofana (knee), Mateo Kovacic (calf), Denis Zakaria (thigh), Kalidou Koulibaly (illness), and Denis Zakaria are all questionable and will be evaluated before the trip to Germany.
With English duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell expected to start as either full-backs or wing-backs, Koulibaly will likely partner with Thiago Silva at center back, whether it be in a back three or four-man defense, if he is deemed fit to play.
Madueke could be replaced on the right wing by Mason Mount or Hakim Ziyech, while Felix is anticipated to keep his spot as the number 10 behind German international Kai Havertz and Mykhaylo Mudryk, who scored five goals in six Champions League games for Shakhtar Donetsk earlier this season, is expected to stay on the left wing.
Kobel, Ryerson, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro, Bellingham, Can, Adeyemi, Reus, Brandt, and Haller might be the starting lineup for Borussia Dortmund.
Arrizabalaga; James; Thiago Silva; Koulibaly; Chilwell; Loftus-Cheek; Fernandez; Mount; Mudryk, Felix, and Havertz Chelsea potential starting lineup