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Borussia Dortmund's defence should get boost from returning full-backs

Borussia Dortmund's defence should get boost from returning full-backs
From ESPN - October 23, 2017

DORTMUND, Germany -- Before any of the journalists could nag Peter Bosz with their questions at Monday's news conference ahead of Tuesday's cup tie against third-tier side FC Magdeburg, press officer Sascha Fligge himself asked the Borussia Dortmund manager about the personnel situation, knowing the 53-year-old had positive news to announce.

"[Lukasz] Piszczek and Omer Toprak are unavailable," Bosz said, following up with: "[Sokratis] Papastathopoulos will return after his suspension, and if things go well at the final team training today, Marcel Schmelzer and Raphael Guerreiro will travel with us to Magdeburg."

And indeed, Schmelzer and Guerreiro were among the players, including Andre Schurrle, that made their way to East Germany.

Although it will take weeks, if not months, until both Guerreiro and Schmelzer will have recovered to full form, it's vital news the Black and Yellows desperately needed.

The Dortmund manager had struggled -- and ultimately failed -- to find a functioning back line in this past Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Eintracht Frankfurt, as he fielded midfielder Julian Weigl at centre-back next to Neven Subotic, who played his first minutes for the senior team since March 2016. Spain international Marc Bartra was fielded as a makeshift right-back, summing up the coach's predicament due to a barrage of injuries and suspensions that hit the club on Saturday.

In consequence, Frankfurt appeared to have their best game of the season in just looking at their attacking stats. Niko Kovac's side produced 20 shots and a season-high "expected goals" count that accumulated to 2.98 ExpG -- Frankfurt only once managed to accumulate an expected goals value above 2 ExpG this season, which came against last-place Cologne.

On the flip side, that is harrowing news for Dortmund as it means that their defence was the worst Eintracht faced in nine matchdays, including five teams from the bottom half of the table and thus far of a team that wants to compete for the title.

So before anything else, it will be on Bosz to fix his side's defensive woes which saw them concede nine goals in the past five games across competition.

How desperately Dortmund are missing a set of good full-backs once again became evident on Saturday, when Frankfurt forced the guests to an unhealthy amount of long balls down the field -- an issue Bosz had addressed previously after matches against Leipzig and Nicosia but is yet to solve.

When asked about the coach's criticism after the draw in Frankfurt, Nuri Sahin told ESPN FC: "It was three against three in midfield and we were man-marked, which does not make things easier. Of course, you still have to try to find spaces. We did talk about that at half-time and I thought that we fared better into the match through our full-backs."

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