20 August 2014 23:11
Jurgen Klopp will become Borussia Dortmund’s longest-serving manager when his side begin their Bundesliga campaign against Bayer Leverkusen.
The charismatic manager took charge at Signal Iduna Park in 2008, and has since led the club to two league titles as well as the DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League final.
Ottmar Hitzfeld was the last man to guide Dortmund to the final of Europe’s premier club competition, in 1997, and when the club open their 2014-15 season against Leverkusen on Saturday, Klopp will go past Hitzfeld’s mark of six years at the helm.
After finishing 19 points adrift of runaway champions Bayern Munich in the title race last term, Dortmund will be desperate to put down a marker as serious contenders for silverware.
They began their competitive season in fine style, defeating Bayern 2-0 in the DFL Supercup last week before easing past Stuttgart Kickers 4-1 in the DFB Pokal on Saturday.
And Klopp believes his men will be well prepared come the clash with Leverkusen on Saturday.
“We are just coming to the end of our preparations,” he said following the Pokal victory.
“The Supercup didn’t fit in with our or Bayern’s schedule. But [against Leverkusen] we will be one step further forward and fresher.”
The game sees two of the division’s strongest sides go head to head, although Leverkusen will have to contend with three days’ less recovery, having beaten Copenhagen 3-2 in their UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg tie in Denmark on Tuesday.
Reigning champions Bayern have a lengthy injury list to contend with at home on Friday to Wolfsburg, who were just pipped to Champions League qualification by Leverkusen in May.
The likes of Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Rafinha and Thiago Alcantara are all missing for Pep Guardiola’s men, while Jerome Boateng is suspended.
Newcomers Cologne, promoted as second-tier champions, start their campaign with a home clash against Hamburg, who narrowly escaped relegation last season thanks to victory in the play-offs.
Paderborn – runners-up behind Cologne – are also at home, and they will take on Mainz, who ended the previous campaign in seventh, on Sunday.
Entertainers Hoffenheim, whose matches saw a total of 142 goals in 2013-14, host Augsburg 24 hours earlier, while Schalke will be looking to make a positive start and build on last season’s third-placed finish when they travel to Hannover.
Two teams that struggled last time out, Freiburg and Stuttgart, hope respective trips to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach will represent the start of a more fruitful campaign while elsewhere, Hertha Berlin welcome Werder Bremen.