Jurgen Klopp expecting tough test
Borussia Dortmund will be without record signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as they kick off their Bundesliga campaign at Augsburg on Saturday.
Dortmund, who beat Bayern Munich 4-2 to win the recent German Super Cup, are widely seen as the only team capable of stopping Bayern from winning back-to-back league titles.
Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has also promoted a handful of youngsters from the reserve team and youth academy. Midfielder Jonas Hofmann, centre-backs Marian Sarr and Koray Guenter, attacker Marvin Ducksch and right back Erik Durm have all stepped up.
Klopp said he was under no illusions about the size of the challenges ahead for his team, both on the opening day and throughout the campaign.
"We are facing a difficult task," Klopp told a press conference on Thursday. "The opponents are fine-tuned and have a good structure. We have to be on our guard."
Mkhitaryan, signed for €25 million, will not be available after suffering an ankle injury in pre-season. Germany international Ilkay Gundogan has also missed the last two training sessions and is a doubt for Saturday.
If Gundogan does not return in time, Dortmund could field one of the fastest attacking midfields in Bundesliga history, with Aubameyang and Jakub Blaszczykowski on the wings and Germany international Marco Reus in the central midfield role.
Reus, preparing for his second season at Dortmund, believes the club will “give it their all” this season to get closer to Bayern.
"This year has to be different. No more 25-point margin," he told Bild. He said he was delighted by the Super Cup victory, but the long-term goal "has to be another title", adding "you can’t drink out of the Super Cup."
Robert Lewandowski will lead the attack, with the Poland international looking to put a long-running summer transfer saga behind him.
With Roman Weidenfeller suspended for one game, Australian goalkeeper Mitch Langerak will start. He has been a good luck charm, claiming ten wins in ten competitive games for the club he joined three years ago.
Meanwhile, Lukasz Pisczek, sidelined for the first half of the season following surgery to his hip, had to undergo another operation this week. Dortmund announced that the operation would not delay Piszczek’s healing process.