Borussia Dortmund will be looking to regain their winning momentum when they take on Union Berlin on Sunday.
A shocking 5-2 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen last weekend saw Borussia Dortmund drift nine points away from league leaders Bayern Munich. With the Bavarian juggernaut playing VfL Bochum on Saturday, the lead could be temporarily extended to twelve points, leaving Dortmund once again under pressure.
For the Black and Yellows, the aftereffects of the 5-2 loss to Leverkusen were somewhat dumbed by the announcement of Niklas Sule’s impending arrival from Bayern Munich earlier this week. The German international is set to join the club on a free transfer next season, with the club also reportedly closing in on Karim Adeyemi of Red Bull Salzburg.
It has left the Dortmund fans excited about the next season. But with five months still remaining in the ongoing 2021/22 campaign, BVB’s focus will shift to the Bundesliga as they take on Union Berlin on Sunday.
It is going to be a difficult task for Marco Rose’s men, up against a Union side currently flying high in the fifth spot. With 34 points on the board, Urs Fischer’s men are in contention for a potential top-four finish, as they are level on points with fourth-placed RB Leipzig.
However, the club from the capital are coming on the back of a 2-0 defeat to FC Augsburg. They also had to endure a difficult January transfer window that saw them cope with the departure of key first-team players Max Kruse and Marvin Friedrich. Nevertheless, the hosts will be confident of their chances of causing an upset against a Dortmund team reeling from the loss to Leverkusen.
Team News & Key Stats
— 1. FC Union Berlin (@fcunion) February 11, 2022
Union Berlin have at least four players out with COVID-19, in the form of Niko Giesselmann, Jakob Busk, Andreas Voglsammer and Dominique Heintz, while Rani Khedira is facing a suspension due to the accumulation of five yellow cards.
With Khedira out, the onus will be on Grischa Promel to operate in central midfield, alongside Genki Haraguchi. Meanwhile, Giesselmann’s absence could see Bastian Oczipka being given a start at left wing-back. The former Eintracht Frankfurt star should play a vital role in providing width on the flanks alongside fellow wing-back Christopher Trimmel.
Trimmel may also play a key role in offering creative services using his set-pieces, especially with the aerially astute figure of Sven Michel leading the line, alongside former Liverpool starlet Taiwo Awoniyi.
Elsewhere in the final third, Garaguchi could technically operate in the advanced midfield slot alongside Sheraldo Becker, with the duo offering a mix of pace and creativity going forward. As for the defensive personnel, Paul Jaeckel is expected to replace Heintz, partnering Timo Baumgartl and Robin Knoche to form the three-man backline for Union this weekend.
Probable Lineup (3-1-4-2): Luthe; Jaeckel, Knoche, Baumgartl; Promel; Trimmel, Becker, Haraguchi, Oczipka; Awoniyi, Michel
Erling Haaland will not be fit enough to feature against Union Berlin, thus joining Thomas Meunier, Mateu Morey and Marius Wolf in the treatment table for Borussia Dortmund.
? Marco Rose:
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) February 11, 2022
With no recognised option at right-back available, Marco Rose could be forced to deploy a three-man backline consisting of Manuel Akanji, Mats Hummels and Dan-Axel Zagadou. The shift in formation should likely allow Thorgan Hazard to operate as a right wing-back, with Raphael Guerreiro occupying the opposite flank.
Guerreiro may play a vital role in Dortmund’s build-up play, whereas Hazard could provide the width going forward. They are both crucial to Dortmund’s second line of press that may also incorporate the two central midfielders in Mahmoud Dahoud and Jude Bellingham.
Moving forward, Haaland’s absence, coupled with a three-man backline should see Dortmund deploy three men in the frontline. Donyell Malen remains the favourite to spearhead the attack, with additional support from two advanced playmakers in Marco Reus and Julian Brandt.
Rose has a host of alternatives at his disposal, including Giovanni Reyna, who is even a candidate to start the game, as confirmed by the BVB head coach. Youssoufa Moukoko, Reinier and Steffen Tigges are the other options in the attacking third, which Rose may require given the upcoming midweek clash against Rangers.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kobel; Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou; Hazard, Bellingham, Dahoud, Guerreiro; Reus, Brandt; Malen
- Christopher Trimmel is in line for his 79th Bundesliga appearance with Die Eisernen, making him the club’s outright record appearance holder in the top flight ahead of Marvin Friedrich. He’s fourth in all competitions with 254 games.
- Union Berlin have won both their home meetings with Dortmund in the Bundesliga (2-1 and 3-1). They are yet to claim three home victories against an opponent in the top flight. Conversely, they are the only club BVB have never won away at in the Bundesliga.
- Erling Haaland has won all three of his games against Union in the Bundesliga, scoring four times. There’s no team he’s got more goals against in the German top flight.
- Youssoufa Moukoko became the youngest scorer in Bundesliga history at 16 years and 28 days when he struck at the Alte Forsterei on 18 December 2020.
- BVB have conceded 36 goals already this season, which is their worst return after 21 games since 2007/08. There are 13 teams in the division who have shipped fewer than second-placed Borussia.
Player to Watch
?️ Marco Rose:
"Donyell Malen has improved and is getting a lot of praise at the moment, including from me. I'm helping him keep at it and make that sustainable." pic.twitter.com/TN7hSvUmQx
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) February 4, 2022
Donyell Malen was a major disappointment in Borussia Dortmund’s last game against Bayer Leverkusen. It was an underwhelming performance, given the fact that the attacker had racked up a hat-trick of assists in the recent win over TSG Hoffenheim.
With Giovanni Reyna and Youssoufa Moukoko back from injury, Malen is also facing pressure to perform as Borussia Dortmund finally start to welcome their key players back to full fitness.
Therefore, Malen will be heading into this game, hoping to return to form. With Haaland out injured, the Dutch international could be an integral figure in the BVB frontline, as he looks to utilise his pace and dynamism to make life difficult for the Union Berlin defenders.
Union Berlin 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have never recorded a victory against Union Berlin away from home. But with the hosts reeling from the loss of Max Kruse and Marvin Friedrich in January, coupled with the COVID-related absentees of key players, that record might just come to an end this weekend.
While Dortmund have to deal with their own set of absentees, the Black and Yellows have enough quality on paper to return to winning ways, although it won’t be surprising to see them struggle defensively, especially from set-pieces.