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Match Preview: Sunderland Do Battle With German Giants Dortmund

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Whilst England's less significant clubs start their seasons this weekend, the rest of us still have some pre-season work to do - Sunderland's final game before taking on Manchester City comes this evening against Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Kick Off: 17:45pm GMT, 5th August 2016
Venue: Cashpoint Arena, Altach, Austria
Last Season: N/A
Watch Live: SAFC.com/live - Commentary from Simon Crabtree & Kevin Ball
Dafabet Odds: Dortmund - 2/9 Draw - 9/2 Sunderland - 9/1

Don't take my opening blurb too seriously, man. It was tongue in cheek.

Anyhow.... Dortmund, eh? How about that? Sunderland don't often get to play these big European teams, even in pre-season, so taking on Thomas Tuchel's side this evening will be a nice change.

We're unbeaten thus far in pre-season, winning four and drawing one, and David Moyes will be keen for his side to get through this evening unscathed and undefeated. Though we haven't struggled to score goals in the five games we've played already I wouldn't expect to see us playing on the front foot today.

It would have been nice to be able to play the game with a full strength team but, with injuries to Jan Kirchhoff and Jermain Defoe, the side we see this evening might not be the one that takes on Manchester City next weekend. That said, we should learn what kind of team shape we'll play at the Etihad based on tonight's performance and I guess that's important.

Tonight represents a massive opportunity for a number of players to really show the fans and the manager that they deserve to be starting games, even when we have players back fit and new signings coming in.

Fabio Borini is our only other senior striker besides Defoe and, with very little other competition for that position currently, it's an ideal opportunity for him to prove that he can play up top on a consistent basis. Fabio has spent virtually his entire Sunderland career playing as a wide player and, with quality opposition in front of him, he can show with a good performance tonight that starting him there in the event of Jermain Defoe being missing isn't such a bad thing.

Dortmund are all about pace up front, which makes them fantastic preparation for what lies ahead. Though Marco Reus is injured, the yellows do have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andre Schurrle and Mario Goetze in attack so... yeah.

Though we shouldn't take pre-season results and performances too literally, this is our last opportunity to improve and work on Moyes' ideas before a huge opener against Pep Guardiola's side next weekend. I'm looking forward to watching how we play.

Team News

Sunderland are going to be without Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring) and Jermain Defoe (thigh), who are both facing a battle to be fit for the Premier League opener against Manchester City.

Billy Jones, Patrick Van Aanholt and Jack Rodwell have been nursing minor issues but should be fit to play tonight. Steven Pienaar, who is on trial with the club following his release from Everton, may also feature.

Moyes' side is pretty easy to second guess due to the lack of options that we have, but the shape with which we play could be interesting. In the easier pre-season ties we've played with three in behind the striker but in a game where we'll most definitely have less of the ball - like we will next week - Moyes could well opt to fit in an extra deep-lying midfielder alongside the usual two holding players.

Predicted XI: Mannone, Van Aanholt, Kaboul, Kone, Jones, Cattermole, Rodwell, Larsson, Khazri, Lens, Borini.

Kirchhoff's Crack

Speaking to SAFC.com, big Jan gave his thoughts ahead of tonight's game - I have to admit, I'm pretty gutted he's not playing. Still, it'll hopefully be worth it if he passes fit for the game next week.

He said:

It will be a tough test but I think it’s come at the right time with just one week to go before we face Manchester City. They will be one of the best teams in our league next year so it’s a good test for us to play a team on the same level like Dortmund.

They will be a really great team next season in Germany and in Europe and the same with Manchester City, so it is a game which will help us be ready for the Premier League.

It’s nice to play against these teams as a footballer because as a sportsman you want to compete with the best and this is two of the best teams at the moment.

It will be fun to measure ourselves against them and see if we can get a result against them, or if we can beat them and make their lives as hard as possible.

That is our task against Dortmund on Friday and that is going to be our task next season when we play great teams, but the Premier League is about playing against the best teams and getting results.

Gav's Prediction

I'm looking forward to this game more than any other match we've played thus far in pre-season, and it isn't really because of our high-profile opponents. Despite missing two key players we should get a huge insight into how we'll play against Manchester City and that is key.

I get the feeling that Moyes will tell his players to go out, defend and look to keep a clean sheet. The previous games have been more about fitness whereas today we'll likely see more of the style and shape that we'll be looking to employ across the opening weeks of our season.

That said, we still aren't too shabby in front of goal and I fancy us to get at least one. Dortmund are one of the best sides in Europe for a reason, and they'll be coming to attack us and score goals.

I'm going for a 1-1 draw - you can get odds of 10/1 for that result with Dafabet.