AS Rangers prepare to face Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie, Derek Clark spoke to BVB Buzz site editor Tushar Bahl for an insight into what Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men can expect.

What sort of season have Dortmund had?

It’s been a pretty tough season for Borussia Dortmund. Injuries have piled up, at one point in the first half of the season they had something like 15 players out, it was pretty much a disaster.

They’ve been knocked out of the Champions League, they’ve been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal which is the German Cup, they’re 2nd in the Bundesliga, six points behind Bayern. The title race is still on but they’re not really thinking about that.

There have been issues in defence and issues with consistency. There was a lot of optimism ahead of the season but it hasn’t turned out as expected.

What’s the fans’ feelings towards coach Marco Rose?

He’s been let down thanks to injuries. At the start of the season they had 10 players injured and it just got worse as the season went on. Erling Haaland has had injuries, Mats Hummels has had injuries so key players out on the sidelines for so long, it’s going to affect any team.

So Marco Rose has been unlucky and you can’t really judge him on this season and that’s probably how the feeling is based around the club.

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Is it likely Erling Haaland will miss the game on Thursday night?

It looks unlikely that he’s going to play. He did train on Monday but there was no training on Tuesday so he only has one training session if he trains on Wednesday. Maybe they’ll risk him but I doubt they’ll want to give him a few minutes just for the sake of it because there are some big games to come and the second leg is next week so there’s no need to rush him.

How vital is Haaland to this Dortmund side?

He’s the game-changer and you can see when he’s absent there’s a marked difference in how Dortmund play and how they score goals. His presence makes it more difficult for opposition defenders to take on the Dortmund players but when he’s not there it’s more difficult to score goals, especially when you’re conceding two or three goals a game.

That is where Erling Haaland comes in, his absence is going to be a big blow. I don’t think there is anyone who can fill that role in the Dortmund squad.

Who will Dortmund look to to fill that void on Thursday?

Marco Reus will be leading the way, he’ll play in that No.10 role and Donyell Malen will start up front. Reus scored two goals at the weekend so he’ll be confident although he’s having an inconsistent season. He’s missed a few big chances in some games so he’ll be looking to make a point and show that he’s the game-changer that he was two or three years ago.

Malen has also had a slow start to the season, he’s not really hit the ground running since his move from PSV in the summer. He’s shown a few glimpses of his quality in recent games but he’s not Erling Haaland so it’s going to be difficult for him.

Mats Hummels was critical of his teammates recently, that’s not a good sign?

I wouldn’t say it was him being critical, it was just him saying, ‘We have to be more consistent and we have to defend together as a team.’ In Germany, there is a bit more directness in the way the players and Sporting Directors talk. Like you can see with Michael Zork, he comes out with pretty direct comments and he’s not afraid to criticise players either.

That’s the difference when it comes to German football, players, commentators and sometimes referees will come out after games and speak their minds. They don’t play around with the topic like some players in the UK do.

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How will Dortmund approach the game, what system are they likely to adopt?

I think they’ll go with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was interesting on Sunday, Marco Rose played with two defensive midfielders and that was a change in formation because usually, he plays with a 4-3-3 and only one defensive midfielder. Since the first leg is in Dortmund, I think they’ll want to take a one-goal lead at least and hopefully a two-goal lead so that they don’t have to worry about the second leg.

We might see an attack-minded performance but they’ll also be mindful of keeping the defence intact and I think that’s why we may see two defensive midfielders again on Thursday.

What is the feeling towards the Europa League for Dortmund?

Europa League is the priority and because Dortmund were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal as well, they will want to win the Europa League if they can. It’s not a prize they’ve won yet, in their history so it’s definitely something that they want to win. They’re not going to look at it as a secondary trophy, that’s for sure.

Everyone from the club has said, ‘We want to win this and we want to go far in the competition,’ obviously, first of all, you have to get into the round of 16 and considering the injuries and inconsistency, this could be a tricky game for Dortmund.

Are there any chinks in the armour that Rangers could look to exploit?

Just counter-attack. Dortmund aren’t defending that well, you often see players out of position. At the weekend, they kept their first clean sheet in like a month and the week before they conceded five goals to Bayer Leverkusen so Dortmund’s defending is not that great and not that consistent.

I’ve seen counter-attacking teams that have managed to cause Dortmund a lot of problems and also set-pieces are something Dortmund struggle with so that’s something Rangers could look to exploit.

It’ll be the 1,000th match at the Westfalenstadion, are there any celebrations planned?

Unlike the UK, in Germany, they don’t allow full crowds in yet so they might allow 10-15,000 in so that’s not the same as 80,000 in the stadium so we may see some fans displaying a few banners and Tifo’s but I don’t think they’ll be able to create the atmosphere as they would want to.

Could the lack of fans be an advantage to Rangers?

Yeah definitely, we saw how big fans are to the players and since the ban started, results at Signa Iduna Park have gotten worse with time. This season has been a bit better because there has been, at least, some fans in stadiums but they have struggled because of the lack of fans.

The pressure will also be on Dortmund which is something Rangers could look to take advantage of.

What is your score prediction?

I think it might end up 2-1 Dortmund.