Injury worries mount for Borussia Dortmund ahead of this weekend's derby against Schalke 04, with Mario Gotze and Jakub Blaszyczkowski missing the match and both Marcel Schmelzer and Ilkay Gündogan still doubtful.
Going into the 141st edition of Germany's biggest derby this Saturday, the back-to-back Bundesliga champions want to overtake Ruhr rivals Schalke. Borussia Dortmund currently trail Schalke by two points. However, Klopp's side has taken 10 points from the last four derbies.
"It's a special game with a special atmosphere between two teams with special qualities," BVB coach Jurgen Klop stated. "Despite all the pressure, we need to focus on football. Our advantage is that we play at home. But that's really the only advantage we've got."
A capacity crowd of 80.000 will not see BVB attacking midfielders Gotze and Blaszczykowski in action. Whereas 'Kuba' picked up the injury in Dortmund's 1-1 draw in Hannover and will be sidelined for at least four more weeks, BVB youngster Mario Gotze returned injured from Germany's national team.
"He had problems with his thigh the whole time spent with the national team, and he also received a lot of treatment," the BVB coach explained. "After his 25-minute appearance on Tuesday he sent a text message saying his hamstring tightened up."
It also remains to be seen, if Gotze can make Wednesday's Champions League clash with Real Madrid. Gotze and Blaszyzkowski could still be joined by Schmelzer (bruised foot) and Gundogan, both players remaining a major doubt until the very last minute.
"Yesterday, Ilkay trained with the team for the first time in two weeks, and it looked quite promising. Now we have to wait and see how his body reacts", Klopp said on Gundogan and on Schmelzer added: "We still hope he recovers in time."
Borussia Dortmund will have to mix up their team, with Ivan Perisic and Dortmund-born Kevin Grosskreutz lined up as possible replacements in the attacking line. Grosskreutz could also replace Schmelzer at left-back, paving the way for a starting appearance from Julian Schieber. "One decision could actually influence another," Klopp said.
Nothing seems certain for Borussia ahead of the most important match of the season for fans on both sides, but according to Klopp one thing is certain: "That we will start with 11 players"
The coach added: "The easy way is easy. We need to do some magic, and will field a good team that will give their best."