They’re a strong second in Germany to all-conquering Bayern Munich. They demolished Tottenham to the tune of 5-1 over two legs. Their leading scorer has 36 goals and 11 assists. In short, there are some very good reasons Borussia Dortmund are favourites in their quarter-final Europa League tie with Liverpool.
Liverpool, though, had hoped for an injury-inspired silver-lining when the two sides face off against each other on Thursday evening. That’s because at the start of the week, first team stars and—if fit—presumptive starters Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all looked likely to miss out due to injury.
However, today word emerged from Germany that all three were involved in training with Dortmund ahead of Thursday’s match at the Westfalenstadion. It’s a significant boost for the first leg hosts, one that further cements Liverpool as underdogs against Jürgen Klppp’s former side, one of the best in Europe in recent seasons.
Sokratis, who missed out on Sunday with a stomach virus, was always thought to have a chance of returning in time for Thursday, but Gundogan and Hummels—out with a foot injury and calf strain respectively—were previously thought likely to miss out against Liverpool. All will now be expected to at least make the bench.
Liverpool got some good news of their own today, though, with word that Roberto Firmino would be making the trip to Germany after sitting out on the weekend. Christian Benteke, Lucas Leiva, and Kevin Stewart on the other hand aren’t expected to be involved, though all have a chance of being fit in time for the second leg.
Fitness aside, both Firmino and fellow Brazilian Philippe Coutinho will have to be careful on Thursday, as both are one yellow card away from a one-match European ban. So too are defenders Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, and Alberto Moreno. All would miss out next week were they to pick up a yellow card this week.
In both the Champions League and Europa League—as well as this summer’s Euros—yellow cards are wiped clean following the quarter-finals, meaning that if Liverpool do manage to advance despite their underdog status, all five players will only be safe if they make it through the next two games without another card.