Borussia Dortmund will look to end their dismal run of form as they host Bayer Leverkusen at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
It has been a terrible month for Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, who are winless in their last five games in all competition.
The Black and Yellows were knocked out of the DFB Pokal by Werder Bremen earlier this month, which was followed by an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. In addition, they were also held by TSG Hoffenheim and 1.FC Nuernberg, which allowed Bayern Munich to level up at the top, following their 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Therefore, the hosts will be desperately searching for all three points if they are to retain their top spot in the league table.
As for Leverkusen, they have had quite a productive month, notably securing a sensational 3-0 win Bayern three weeks ago. However, they were knocked out of both DFB Cup as well as the Europa League by FC Heidenheim and FC Krasnodar respectively.
And with the Dreifachbelastung now out of the equation, Die Werkself will solely focus on achieving a higher placed finish in the league and a win against league leaders for Dortmund could give them the much-needed boost.
Here at the Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both of these sides ahead of this mouthwatering Bundesliga fixture on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
The expected return of key defender Manuel Akanji will be a huge boost for Lucien Favre, although the Swiss mastermind will continue to miss out on the services of Marco Reus and Lukasz Piszczek.
Akanji will be deployed at the heart of Dortmund’s four-man backline, alongside Abdou Diallo, who will look to end his dismal run of form against Leverkusen this weekend.
Piszczek’s absence, meanwhile, will once again pave the way for Achraf Hakimi to start in his favoured right-back slot while Marcel Schmelzer is almost a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.
In midfield, Favre will stick to his trusted combination of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney, with Mahmoud Dahoud providing an additional option for the Swiss.
In attack, Jacob Bruun-Larsen may return to the starting lineup, replacing Maximilian Philipp. Therefore, we could expect Raphael Guerreiro shift into a central attacking midfielder, with Jadon Sancho and Bruun-Larsen operating in wider areas of the pitch.
And finally, the Dortmund attack will be led by Mario Gotze, who will continue to start over Paco Alcacer as the number nine this weekend. However, the Spaniard could feature at some point in the second half.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Akanji, Diallo, Schmelzer; Delaney, Witsel; Sancho, Guerreiro, Bruun-Larsen; Gotze.
After being knocked out of the Europa League in midweek, Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz is expected to shuffle his pack a little, especially in the defensive department.
The trusted defensive combination of Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender will return at the heart of Leverkusen’s four-man backline, replacing Tim Jedvaj and Aleksandar Dragovic.
Mitchell Weiser, however, might retain his place in the right-slot as his pace and dynamism could be useful as the visitors look to exploit the highly vulnerable Schmelzer on the right flank. Similarly, Wendell will also retain his place in the opposite flank.
In midfield, Lars Bender could be introduced in order to provide more solidity and the 29-year-old will be partnered by Kai Havertz and Charles Aranguiz, whose remarkable work-rate will be key in dealing with the likes of Delaney and Witsel.
Julian Brandt should shift into a wider attacking role on the left-side, with Leon Bailey starting on the right. Kevin Volland could be deployed as the main striker for Leverkusen this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hradecky; Weiser, Tah, Sven Bender, Wendell; Havertz, Lars Bender, Aranguiz; Bailey, Volland, Brandt.
- Borussia Dortmund have scored at least 3 goals in their last 3 home matches against Bayer Leverkusen in all competitions.
- Leverkusen have won with at least a 2-goal margin in their last 4 matches in the Bundesliga.
- Peter Bosz will return to the Signal Iduna Park for the first time as a coach after being sacked midway through last season.
- Only Bayern Munich have secured more wins against Bayer Leverkusen than Borussia Dortmund in the club’s history.
- Despite their dismal run of form in February so far, Dortmund are the only team yet to lose a home game this season.
Player to Watch
Arguably the most promising young player in the Bundesliga right now, the spotlight will once again turn to Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz as he looks to continue his excellent run of form this season.
In fact, the 19-year-old has been involved in as many as 14 goals in all competition so far and his mazy runs in the final third coupled with some intricate passes in attack could provide his side with the ideal creative boost going forward.
However, the youngster could face a stern test against the likes of Delaney and Witsel, both of whom are known for their tenacity in midfield, thus making Havertz one of the players worth looking forward to this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Dortmund will be undoubtedly boosted by the return of both Akanji in defence, which should fortify an otherwise leaky backline that has conceded a lot of silly goals in the past few matches. Thus, we expect the home side to secure a rather comfortable win against a Leverkusen side, who are coming on the back of a strenuous Europa League fixture against Krasnodar in the midweek.
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