Borussia Dortmund starts fresh in Europe after being bounced from the Champions League and sets out to win the Europa League trophy.
Borussia Dortmund host Atalanta on Thursday night in the first leg of their round-of-32 Europa League tie, and with the Bundesliga all but wrapped up by Bayern Munich, die Schwarzgelben will be going all out in Europe as they look to finish the season with a trophy.
Since the departure of star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the arrival of Michy Batshuayi, Dortmund have won twice, scoring five goals overall. Batshuayi has proven to be an instant hit, and after club hero Marco Reus made his return at the weekend it seems as though things at the Signal Iduna Park are finally starting to improve.
As for the visitors, after finishing fourth in Serie A last season, the Nerazzurri might even have hoped to be challenging for the title this season. However, with key players sold in the summer and those remaining struggling to reproduce last season's form, they currently find themselves eighth in the league, ten points off fourth-placed Roma.
Despite the poor form in the league, Atalanta have been outstanding in Europe, and after a brilliant group stage the Nerazzurri will be confident of going all the way in the competition.
Certainly the man on form for Dortmund is Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi. The striker has had a hand in all the goals that die Schwarzgelben have scored since arriving, and against Atalanta it wouldn't come as a surprise to see the Belgian involved in either creating a goal or scoring himself.
Atalanta head into the tie in relatively poor form, with only four wins from seven games, with a home defeat against Napoli being the most damaging result during the spell.
Along with the poor results, goals have been hard to come by with only five scored in their last six games in all competitions.
Sokratis vs Gomez
Sokratis was an unused substitute for the win over Hamburg at the weekend, however the Greece international is expected to return on Thursday. Sokratis is a powerful player who relishes a one-on-one battle with his opponent, and against Alejandro Gomez expect the Greek to harass and intimidate the Argentine from the first whistle.
Given the size difference between the two it may seem on paper that the Dortmund center half has the advantage. However Gomez has come up against the biggest and best center halves that Italy have produced, and for the majority of the time the Argentine has come out on top.
This key battle will be decided on the first few minutes off the game, as if Sokratis can impose himself then we may not see Gomez make any sort of impact.
Reus vs Toloi
Marco Reus played his first game in 259 days on Saturday, and despite not providing an assist or goal, the German did show glimpses of why he is known as one of the best in the world.
It may be the case that the German superstar will be rested for the clash on Thursday, however given Dortmund's need for silverware this season the once Borussia Mönchengladbach may be forced to play against Atalanta.
If Reus was to feature it would mean that center back Rafael Toloi would need to be at the top of his game.
Playing on the right side of the back three, Toloi has played in nearly every Serie A game for the Nerazzurri and has shown to be a very capable defender, and on Thursday the Brazilian will need to nullify Reus, if his team are to get anything from the game.
January signing Manuel Akanji is ineligible to play in the competition and will miss the fixture. As for the injuries, it is still the same picture with Andrey Yarmolenko, Maximilian Philipp and Marcel Schmelzer still out.
No players are missing for Atalanta heading into the crunch fixture.
Borussia Dortmund (4-3-3): Bürki - Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan - Kagawa, Weigl, Götze - Pulisic, Batshuayi, Reus.
Atalanta (3-5-2): Berisha - Toloi, Caldara, Palomino - Castagne, Cristante, Roon, Freuler, Spinazzola - Gomez, Petagna.
Off the back of two great wins and with home advantage on their side a win for the home side is on the cards. It won't be an easy game for die Schwarzgelben by any stretch of the imagine, however with Batshuayi in red-hot form, Dortmund are expected to take at least a one goal advantage into the second leg.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Atalanta