Reluctant travellers Dortmund set to play makeshift defence at Lazio

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 21, 2019 Dortmund’s Swiss head coach Lucien Favre arrives for the German first division Bundesliga football match SC Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund in Freiburg, southern Germany. – Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has extended his contract until the end of 2020/21, the Bundesliga club confirmed on June 18, 2019. Favre, 61, took the reins at Dortmund at the beginning of last season and led the club to a second-place Bundesliga finish behind perennial title winners Bayern Munich in his first year in charge. (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

Lucien Favre admitted on Monday that Borussia Dortmund are heading to Rome reluctantly as he looks to deploy a makeshift defence against Lazio in the Champions League.

Dortmund coach Favre expressed his concerns about travelling to the Italian capital as numbers of coronavirus cases rise across Europe.

“We must be very careful. It’s dangerous,” Swiss Favre said, with the German club to stay in a “bubble” during their brief stay in Rome.

“There will be more cases. It’s not good to travel.

“We have to be sensible. We have to think about our players.”

Lazio warmed up for their first Champions League game in 13 years by losing 3-0 at Sampdoria on Saturday, which left coach Simone Inzaghi fuming with his side in mid-table on 4 points from as many games.

Dortmund are third in the Bundesliga with nine points from their opening four games, but needed a late Marco Reus goal to seal a nervy 1-0 win at Hoffenheim.

Fears over Covid-19 is not Favre’s only concern heading to Rome with Mats Hummels his only fully fit centre-back.

Right back Lukasz Piszczek flew with the squad on Monday after suffering an eye injury against Hoffenheim.

Swiss defender Manuel Akanji missed Saturday’s narrow 1-0 win over Hoffenheim after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Dan-Axel Zagadou and Nico Schulz are injured, while Emre Can is suspended after being sent off in their last 16 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in February.

“A bit of improvisation is needed,” admitted sports director Michael Zorc.

Defensive midfielder Thomas Delaney, who was deployed as an emergency defender at Hoffenheim when Piszczek was injured, is set to again partner Hummels at centre-back.

Marco Reus came off the bench to score a late winner at Hoffenheim, but the German club hope Erling Braut Haaland can add to his 21 goals in 24 games for Dortmund in Rome.

Dortmund will be facing their former striker Ciro Immobile, 30, who managed just three goals in 24 Bundesliga games for them in 2014/15.

However, Immobile has since scored 126 goals in 181 games over the last four years for Lazio, who he joined in 2016, and has been the top-scorer in Serie A three times.