After a frustrating draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, Lucien Favre’s side will move on to the last game of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Borussia Dortmund will take on Zenit Saint Petersburg on Tuesday night.
Dortmund have already secured a place for themselves in the Round of 16 of the competition, however, the top spot in Group F is yet to be won. If the black and yellows manage a win, they will win the group.
Although winning the group may be a top priority for Lucien Favre, we should not ignore the fitness levels of his squad. Dortmund are currently without Erling Haaland, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Delaney, Manuel Akanji, Raphael Guerreiro, Reiner Jesus, Marcel Schmelzer, all due to injury/illness.
Hence, I believe that given all the current injuries which Dortmund are plagued with, it would be smart to rest the players who have played a lot in recent games.
This is my starting XI for the game against Zenit:
Goalkeeper: Roman Burki: This is a fairly obvious choice. Burki was Dortmund’s best player on the pitch against Frankfurt on Saturday. The chances of a clean-sheet are naturally higher with the Polish International between the sticks.
Defenders: Lukasz Piszczek, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Nico Schulz: With the afore-mentioned as the 3 central defenders, Mats Hummels and Emre Can will be given a much-needed rest after they were rushed into the starting XI against Frankfurt on the weekend, despite just recovering from their injuries.
Piszczek is a veteran who can always be counted on to do the job. He played in the previous Champions League game against Lazio and was solid as ever.
Zagadou made his first Bundesliga appearance of the season against Frankfurt, and more game-time will help him get back to his best after a long-term knee injury.
Schulz may not be accustomed to playing as a central defender, however, with such a tight schedule, it is a must for him to do so.
Midfielders: Mateu Morey, Jude Bellingham, Mahmoud Dahoud, Felix Passlack: Morey is the stand-in right wing-back for when Meunier is injured, so he should take his place. Passlack, on the other side of the field, hasn’t appeared in either of Dortmund’s most recent games. Starting him will give Guerreiro additional time to recover from his muscular injuries.
Jude Bellingham didn’t start against Frankfurt, and his fresh legs should help Dortmund cover sufficient ground in the midfield battle vs Zenit. Dahoud, on the other hand, played only the first 45′ of the game vs Frankfurt and should be fit enough to start tomorrow. This will give Thomas Delaney extra time to recover from his back injury and also give Axel Witsel a much-deserved rest.
Forwards: Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, Youssoufa Moukoko: Hazard, Reus, and Moukoko didn’t start against Frankfurt. In fact, it was only Moukoko who made an appearance at the Commerzbank Arena. The 16-year-old is yet to make his first start for the senior team. A game against a defence that has let in 11 goals in 5 UCL games would be ideal for the youngster to start in.