Germany: Bundesliga
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Mainz 05
A. Witsel (87)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Rose praises ad-hoc back-four's second clean sheet: "Stabilization and Identity."

Borussia Dortmund trainer Marco Rose had much to be pleased about after his makeshift back-four delivered its second clean-sheet in three days. 

Accordingly, Rose reserved the bulk of his post-match praise for Nico Schulz, Felix Passlack, Emré Can, and Marin Pongracic.
After utilizing the exact same starting XI in Wednesday's make-up fixture against Mainz as he deployed in the win over Bielefeld three days ago, BVB head-coach Marco Rose made clear how happy he was at a second consecutive 1-0 victory on a very tight turnaround.

"It was the difficult game we expected," Rose noted afterwards, "A lot of fight. A lot of passion. We had to defend against a lot of will, but we managed that well again and got another clean sheet."

The plethora of injuries in the Dortmund defensive corps have certainly caused the club no shortage of problems this season. The general consensus in the German football punditry has largely been that Dortmund's lack of depth at the back prevented the team from being real title contenders.

Just as it appeared that the never-ending cast of defenders unavailable seemed poised to prove this point, however, three back-ups (Marin Pongracic, Nico Schulz, Felix Passlack) and a natural defensive midfielder (Emré Can) have turned that thesis on its head.

The "emergency quartet" have certainly gelled in the last two fixtures. The four played with good intuitive understanding of each other once again on Wednesday.

"I think it's fabulous that we kept a clean sheet for the second time with this [defensive] chain," Rose said, "The guys really dug in. That was great."

"I don't really don't like to mention it, but will say it anyway," Rose continued, "We're missing eight important players. Everyone's talking about the corona-absences in Bielefeld in Mainz and Bielefeld, but we had a very difficult situation in a short week."

Among the missing eight are four of Rose's preferred defensive starters. Mats Hummels, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Thomas Meunier, and Raphaël Guerreiro weren't even available for Rose's bench squad.

The Dortmund gaffer had to call up Lennard Maloney and Antonios Papadopoulous from the reserves simply to give himself back-up options.

"The last two games in this constellation and how the guys fight and perform lets you talk about a [team] identity," Rose noted, "The results obviously help a lot too. There's thus great praise for the lads."

"We've stabilized in terms of goals conceded," he concluded.

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