The current attempt by Borussia Dortmund to dethrone Bayern Munich, Bundesliga champions for the past ten seasons, begins on Saturday when they host Bayer Leverkusen.
Last season, Die Schwarzgelben finished second, eight points behind Bayern, and have attempted to build around their promising youthful core in order to present a stronger push under returning coach Edin Terzic.
The early signals were positive in last Friday’s 3-0 cup triumph over 1860 Munich, but Dortmund will face a far stiffer challenge from Leverkusen, who finished fifth last season, five points behind Dortmund.
Last weekend, third-tier Elversberg caught Die Werkself off guard in the cup, and manager Gerardo Seoane will be seeking for a reaction at Signal Iduna Park.
Dortmund are missing key starting alternatives, including the striker signed to replace the massive goalscoring vacuum left by Erling Haaland’s move to Manchester City.
Last week, it was reported that Sebastien Haller would be absent while undergoing chemotherapy for a malignant tumor.
Terzic’s expected starting striker is Donyell Malen, who scored just five league goals in his first season at Dortmund.
Captain Marco Reus and dynamic forward Karim Adeyemi, who will make his maiden Bundesliga start today, will be joined by 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko in the attack.
Nico Schlotterbeck, a central defender, is also likely to make his league debut, although fellow newcomer Niklas Sule will have to wait after limping out with a muscle issue on Friday.
Manuel Akanji wishes to leave Dortmund and has thus far played no role in Terzic’s plans.
Felix Passlack and Salih Ozcan are both questionable, but the latter is trying to play following a foot injury.
Florian Wirtz of Leverkusen will be absent for a while as he recovers from a cruciate ligament rupture suffered last season.
The club’s biggest addition of the summer, Czech youngster Adam Hlozek, is set to make his Bundesliga debut among a terrifying array of offensive possibilities led by last season’s 24-goal star Patrik Schick.
Amine Adli has healed totally from a catastrophic thigh injury that has kept him out since March, but the 22-year-old may be too out of shape to play.
Last season, Dortmund won 13 of their 17 home games, but one of the four home games that did not go their way culminated in a 5-2 defeat by Leverkusen.
On a day that showed many of the inconsistencies that blighted their 2021-22 campaign, Die Schwarzgelben were thoroughly outplayed.
BVB have won their first league game for the last seven seasons, six of which have been at home, but the last time they dropped points on such an occasion was a 2-0 loss to Leverkusen in 2014, when Karim Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history just nine seconds.
No team earned more points in the final 17 games of the 2021-22 season than Die Werkself, who set a new club record with 80 goals last season, 41 of which came on the road.
When two such attack-minded teams meet, goals appear to be certain, and both sides appear set to register at some point on Saturday.
As many as seven goals have been scored in three of the last five encounters, and at least four in eight of the last nine, so it would not be surprising to see that lower number broken.
Dortmund failed to score in only one Bundesliga game last season and can capitalize on their home advantage if they eliminate defensive mistakes and play to their strengths.