Borussia Dortmund vs Legia Warsaw Preview: Poles looking to avoid another thrashing

Borussia Dortmund vs Legia Warsaw Preview: Poles looking to avoid another thrashing

The visitors to Signal Iduna Park are much improved since their first meeting in September, but could face a returning Marco Reus.

James Rees

It is back to business for Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, just 72 hours after their first Bundesliga win against Bayern Munich for two-and-a-half years.

They face Legia Warsaw once more in the UEFA Champions League, following their victorious trip to Poland in September. However they have already reached the knockout stages, and are likely to make numerous changes for this game.

Legia though could pose more of a threat. They have changed their coach, their form is vastly improved, and they have the fillip of a memorable draw against Real Madrid still fresh in their minds.

Dortmund already qualified and back in form

The group stage for the two sides began in Warsaw, with Dortmund romping to a 6-0 win, and Legia’s fans causing enough mayhem to ensure their next home game, against Real, was held behind closed doors.

Dortmund remain unbeaten in Group F, and have already qualified for the last 16, having drawn with Real and then beaten Sporting Club de Portugal twice.

They went without a win in the Bundesliga in October, but have returned to form in style since, beating Hamburger SV 5-2 before the international break and then winning 1-0 against arch nemesis Bayern on Saturday.

With Thomas Tuchel’s men on fire again, Legia be in for another tough night, but a change of coach for Legia, and the fact Dortmund are already through, could make it a very different sort of game.

Polish champions revived under Magiera

Since the two sides last met, Legia have had a change of coach, with Besnik Hasi sacked a week after Dortmund's visit, to be replace by Jacek Magiera, a former Legia player.

He oversaw what was almost one of the greatest results in European football history. They came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 against European champions Real with just seven minutes left in their last match in the competition, however the lead only lasted two minutes before Mateo Kovacic equalised.

Nevertheless, the result was still a great achievement, if not enough to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive. There is still a chance of reaching the UEFA Europa League for them though.

Their previously abysmal league form has also improved under Magiera. A run of four wins in a row leading up to this game has seen the Polish champions climb up to fourth in the Ekstraklasa, albeit still eight points off the top. They beat Jagiellonia Bialystok, who had been leading the table at the time, 4-1 on Friday.

A different taks

Tuchel expects Legia to be a different proposition under Magiera. “They used to play 4-1-4-1, now they have two holding midfielders,” he said. “They have the confidence that only comes from winning games, so we will see a different side.”

Magiera himself echoed his thoughts, believing they could put their defeat in September behind them. “We don't want to think about that anymore,” he said. “We are a different team now, even if the same players are playing. We are optimistic.”

Needless to say though, he is aware of the task ahead. “[Dortmund] are a very good side, but we knew that already”, he said. “We will have to put in a top performance to get a result.”

Bürki out until 2017 but Reus is back

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki had been ruled out until the New Year after breaking his hand during the game against Bayern, meaning the vastly-experienced Roman Weidenfeller will play in goal.

Tuchel confirmed there would be other changes too, given that his side have already qualified. However as several players feeling the effects of Saturday’s win, he admits that “we might have needed to do so even if we didn't have enough points.”

There are doubts over Marcel Schmelzer and Erik Durm, whilst Raphael Guerreiro is definitely ruled out with muscle problems, however Tuchel confirmed that Marco Reus would finally be available having missed the entire season. It would seem unlikely though that he will go straight into the starting line-up.

Thibault Moulin, who scored the goal that gave Legia the lead against Real, is the only expected absentee for them, who like Guerreiro has muscular problems.

Magiera didn't appear to rest any players against Bialystok, but one possible change from the side that started that game could see Valeri Qazaishvili replaced with a more defensive player like Tomasz Jodłowiec in the centre of the pitch.

Predicted line-ups

Borussia Dortmund: (4-1-4-1) Weidenfeller; Passlack, Ginter, Bartra, Durm; Rode; Pulisic, Castro, Kagawa, Dembélé; Ramos.

Legia Warsaw: (4-2-3-1) Malarz; Bereszyński, Pazdan, Rzeźniczak, Hlousek; Kopczyński, Jodłowiec; Guilherme, Odjidja-Ofoe, Radović; Nikolić.