14 August 2014 19:23
Borussia Dortmund face minnows Stuttgarter Kickers in their DFB-Pokal opener on Saturday as they aim to go one better than last season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men made it all the way to the final of the competition last term before being beaten 2-0 after extra-time by arch-rivals Bayern Munich.
Dortmund head into their weekend fixture against third-tier Kickers on the back of a more positive meeting with Bayern, with Klopp’s side having beaten the Bundesliga champions 2-0 in Wednesday’s DFL Supercup tie.
Kickers are already four games into their league campaign, and sit sixth in the 3. Liga having taken seven points so far.
Although Kickers will officially be the home side, the match will actually take place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena rather than their own GAZI-Stadion auf der Waldau.
But despite the fact the game will be played on neutral ground, Kickers club president Rainer Lorz is relishing the occasion.
He said: “The excitement is building. This is a great even for us, but it is clear; this is not just about us playing once before maybe 35,000 people.
“We want to present ourselves as well as possible.”
Kickers coach Horst Steffen added: “We are not going to purely defend. We want to play our game, to really deal with the opponents and nerves. I expect everyone to believe that we can beat Dortmund.
“You get the better of nerves if you simply run, run and run.”
The Stuttgart outfit face a huge task on Saturday, as three-time Pokal winners Dortmund have only lost two of their last 16 matches in the competition – both to Bayern Munich.
With the start of the new Bundesliga campaign coming next week, Klopp could opt to rest some of his big guns, while several players will miss out through injury.
Oliver Kirch (foot) is expected to be sidelined, while Marcel Schmelzer is out with an abductor injury and efender Sokratis Papastathopoulos is also a doubt after picking up a knock on Wednesday.