Bundesliga Preview: Borussia Dortmund v Augsburg
By Football News
The curious case of Ji Dong-Won takes another twist on Saturday, when he could line up for his new employer against his future club.
South Korean Ji signed for Augsburg from Sunderland on a short-term deal for an undisclosed fee on January 16, before being unveiled as a close-season recruit for Borussia Dortmund just a day later.
The sequence of events places the 22-year-old in the tricky situation of trying to impress new boss Markus Weinzierl, while not making himself any enemies in the Dortmund camp as the two sides come head to head at Signal Iduna Park.
And Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will be hoping Ji does not get off to a flying start for his temporary club, having seen his charges go on a three-match winless run before the mid-season break.
The 2012-13 UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga runners-up have tried to build some momentum over the past fortnight by playing four friendlies, three against lower-league opposition - and coming away with victory in each of them.
Klopp's men currently sit fourth in the league, 12 points adrift of leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a game in hand.
That deficit may be seem insurmountable without a catastrophic Bayern collapse, but Dortmund will be keen not to fall further behind Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach, who currently occupy the other two automatic Champions League qualification spots.
And they will feel confident heading into their first competitive game of 2014, having not lost to Augsburg in any of their last five meetings.
Furthermore, Dortmund won the reverse fixture 4-0 back in August, thanks in no small part to a hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But Augsburg - currently eighth in the top flight - have been in a rich vein of form of late, only losing one of their last seven league fixtures - a 3-0 defeat to leaders Bayern in November.
Klopp will be boosted by the news that Mats Hummels has returned to fitness and should be in line for a recall, while Ilkay Gundogan is also on the road to recovery.
The Dortmund boss is determined to turn his side's form around and ensure that opponents do not come to Signal Iduna Park confident of a result.
"For us, it is important that we qualify directly for the Champions League," he said. "I want no one to come to Dortmund and believe that he can get the three points."