Dynamo Dresden begin their seemingly-impossible pursuit of survival on Sunday, and they couldn’t ask for a tougher start against promotion-chasing VfB Stuttgart, fresh off the back of their victory against Hamburger SV.
Markus Kauczinski’s side had been slowly improving before the break but coronavirus cases at the club have left them with a challenging scheduled to make up the lost games, having only had a week to get up to fitness.
Is their mission doomed from the start, or could this be the start of something special?
The Great Escape or Mission Impossible?
It’s “us against the world” according to the club’s Twitter. One German newspaper claims they have been “sacrificed by the DFL.” And it’s clear that the odds are stacked heavily against Dresden’s survivals after three positive coronavirus cases left the team in quarantine for two weeks, meaning that only now can they resume their season. If they can get even close to staying up, it would be Hollywood-worthy material.
Over the next three weeks, Kauczinski’s men will have to play eight of their remaining nine games, with only three days between each. The league’s bottom side have only been training since last Saturday. The coach admits that between the games, travelling, regeneration and analysis, “there will be little time left for (further) training” over the next few weeks.
“Stuttgart has a clear advantage,” he admitted ahead of Sunday’s game, and his priority for selecting his team will simply to be to find five outfield players who can last the 90 minutes (with five able to be replaced). Nevertheless, despite the squad’s failings this season, there isn’t much between competing players in certain positions, and if they can get a good run going, who knows where the momentum will take them.
Precise team news is limited, however one player will miss out as they remain in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. This may not necessarily be a senior member of the team though. The other three players who previously had the virus – Simon Makienok was the only publicly-confirmed case – appear to have trained this week, as have the players who were injured before the season paused, including Jannik Müller, Kevin Ehlers and Marco Terrazinno.
Doubts remain despite Hamburg drama
Despite Kauczinski’s assertion that Stuttgart have a major advantage here, Die Roten come into this game less than 72 hours after their dramatic comeback against Hamburg, a game that may have taken a lot of them. Least of all Nicólas González, who according to coach Pellegrino Matarazzo was already spent before making one more effort to see up Gonzalo Castro’s winning goal.
“The boys slept little and were tired this morning,” the 42-year-old revealed after training less than 24 hours later. That said, “the mood was very relieved but also very calm,” he revealed. The win moved them back up to second in the table, two clear of Hamburg and five behind leaders Arminia Bielefeld, before their game on Saturday.
The first half performance against Hamburg had been poor though, and Matarazzo warned that his team would have to match their second half display if they are to take all three points back from Saxony. The verdict remains out amongst the local press over whether they have really turned a corner after four games without a win. An emphatic performance here will put some of those doubts to rest.
Atakan Karazor and Daniel Didavi are available again after suspension and will be strong contenders to start given the short turnaround, although the latter has struggled with a knock this week. Castro, as well as captain Marc-Oliver Kempf, will also be an option after only a brief cameo against Hamburg. Mario Gómez will be fresh as well, having been left on the bench after a poor outing against Holstein Kiel.
Date: Sunday 31st May 2020
Kick-Off: 13:30 CEST, 12:30 BST, 7:30 EDT
Watch: Sky Sport Bundesliga 4 (Germany), BT Sport 2 (UK and Republic of Ireland), Fox Sports Match Pass (USA)
Most will be tipping a comfortable Stuttgart win here, however those who know better may just fancy a surprise here. A Dresden win might be asking too much, but they could just grab a point if Stuttgart prove too worn out or complacent here.