Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus is hoping to make his comeback from a six-month adductor injury against league leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday as the hosts look to close the gap on the leaders to three points.
The 27-year-old Reus returned to training this week he could be available for the biggest Bundesliga game of the season even without any match practice.
“It is a pleasure to see Marco back in training,” coach Thomas Tuchel said. “He is in top shape and already has reached a noteworthy playing level.”
While Reus, out since May, is unlikely to be in the starting line-up, his presence on the bench will no doubt lift the 80,000 fans expected at the Signal Iduna park.
Tuchel will also have midfielder Sebastian Rode back following his appendicitis operation as well as fit-again full back Marcel Schmelzer as their injury crisis eases.
Several others, including Portugal’s Raphael Guerreiro, came back early following the international matches and will be rested as Dortmund gather as much firepower as they can to snap Bayern’s unbeaten run this season.
“There is tension in the air but that’s normal when you play your biggest rival,” Rode said. “We play at home, we can play freely and can close in to within three points. That is enough motivation for us.”
Dortmund’s Bundesliga campaign may be somewhat less consistent than Bayern’s, chasing a record-extending fifth domestic league title, but the visitors have not had a flawless campaign.
With only two wins in their last five league matches, Bayern, on 24 points, know another slip-up could prove costly. Dortmund are fifth on 18.
The Bavarians had their own injury concerns, but keeper Manuel Neuer, who missed Germany’s internationals due to illness, defender Jerome Boateng and winger Frank Ribery are back in training.
Dutchman Arjen Robben also looks to have overcome a minor thigh muscle injury picked up on international duty but coach Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest concern is over Chilean Arturo Vidal who played twice for his country despite an injury.
Vidal will undergo a thorough medical check to determine the extent of his injury, sustained in the goalless draw against Colombia before he played in their 3-1 win over Uruguay.
“We need a top performance and the team is aware that this is what is needed from us,” Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.
Second-placed RB Leipzig, unbeaten so far, can take over the top of the table – at least for a day – when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.