Thomas Tuchel defended his squad rotation policy after Borussia Dortmund’s 100 per cent start to the season was halted by the midweek draw at Hoffenheim.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan were left out of the starting line-up for Wednesday’s game and watched as a hopelessly disjointed Dortmund struggled through the first half before grabbing a point thanks to Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s 55th-minute equaliser.
Although it meant their winning streak ended at 12 games in all competitions, the former Mainz coach was not downbeat ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Darmstadt.
“It was a good sign we were annoyed [about the draw], but we must not feel like losers, instead we have to find a good balance,” said Tuchel, who defended his decision to rest two of his senior men for the trip to the Rhein-Neckar Arena.
“There is no other way – even if it sometimes takes time for it to work. The problems in Hoffenheim were not because of the team I picked.”
Despite his goal, Aubameyang is not yet at full fitness, according to Tuchel, who added: “His red light is not turned on yet. We often have to substitute him in the 70th minute. [But] he will definitely play on Sunday.”
Adnan Januzaj, on loan from Manchester United, could also start against the Bundesliga newcomers, but central defender Neven Subotic misses out through injury. Left-back Marcel Schmelzer will be assessed after training on Saturday.