Langerak primed for Dortmund spot
Australia's Mitchell Langerak could make only his second Bundesliga appearance for German champions Borussia Dortmund at Hamburg on Sunday with first-choice goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller doubtful through injury. Langerak, who was part of the Socceroos' squad which enjoyed a shock 2-1 friendly win over Germany last March, will be between the posts if Weidenfeller fails to recover from back pains.
The former Melbourne Victory shot-stopper has only just returned from fitness after damaging stomach muscles during Dortmund's training camp in La Manga, Spain, but insists he is ready to play. "Roman hasn't trained, so Mitchell Langerak is back in the picture after his injury, he is our first option," said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
Langerak has made a cup appearance this season when he kept a clean sheet against second-division Dynamo Dresden in Dortmund's 2-0 second-round victory last October. He has made just one league appearance though, when he helped Dortmubd to a crucial 3-1 win at Bayern Munich last February on their way to the title.
In Hamburg, Dortmund will also be without Mario Goetze, who is out with a groin strain. Second-placed Dortmund are three points behind league leaders Bayern as the Bundesliga starts the second phase of the season after the winter break, with the Bavarian giants beginning at fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach tonight.
Klopp says Dortmund are ready and waiting should Bayern stumble, but acknowledges they may not catch the Bavarians. "The role of Borussia Dortmund has changed and we now find ourselves being compared to Bayern Munich, rather than as outsiders for the title," said Klopp. "It could be a long time before Bayern stumble, perhaps they won't. We may not reach their level, not even with Marco Reus joining us next season."
The reigning champions began their season with a 3-1 win over Hamburg at home back in August, but Klopp says the battle for places at the top of the table remains tight with four points separating the top four teams. "I guess the battle at the top of the table is as tight as it looks on paper," said Klopp, with the top four Bundesliga teams qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season. "We know Schalke, Bremen and 'Gladbach will have a say in how the European places are decided."