Marco Rose will be under the microscope as Borussia Dortmund take on FC Augsburg on Sunday, hoping to return to winning ways.
A shocking elimination from the UEFA Europa League at the hands of Rangers has left Borussia Dortmund in a distressful situation. With questions being asked about the quality of players and management decisions, it has put pressure on head coach Marco Rose, despite receiving backing from the board.
While Dortmund have been knocked out of every cup competition, there are hopes of a potential comeback in the Bundesliga title race. The Black and Yellows are currently trailing league leaders Bayern Munich by nine points after the Bavarians secured a victory against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
But with the Rekordmeister facing a stern test against Leverkusen and Hoffenheim in their next two fixtures, Dortmund can cut the gap at the top with a run of positive results.
Dortmund have a relatively easier encounter against an Augsburg side currently dawdling inside the drop zone. Die Fuggerstadter have won only once in their last nine matches and face an uphill task of pulling things back, despite the marquee January arrival of Ricardo Pepi. Here at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial Bundesliga match-up this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Das war's mit der Pressekonferenz vor #FCABVB! ✅ pic.twitter.com/xvGYGlvmuP
— FC Augsburg (@FCAugsburg) February 25, 2022
FC Augsburg are missing a plethora of key players, including Andre Hahn, who has been ruled out due to suspension. He is joined by Alfred Finnbogason, Robert Gumny, Tobias Strobl and Andi Zeqiri in the club’s list of absentees.
Finnbogason and Zeqiri’s absence, in particular, are major losses, and it would mean both Florian Niederlechner and Michael Gregoritsch are set to spearhead the line once again, with additional assistance from the wide attackers. While Ruben Vargas remains a guaranteed option on the left, the suspension of Hahn could see Noah Sarenren Bazee receive a start on the opposite flank.
Their collective pace and ability to operate as runners behind the backline could be useful as Augsburg look to breach the Dortmund defence on the counter. It could be equally important for the two central midfielders Niklas Dorsch and Arne Maier to find those runners with precise through balls.
More importantly, the two will be tasked with the responsibility of breaking up the Dortmund play in the middle of the park and denying the ball-carriers space to run into in the final third in transition.
It could go a long way in aiding the back four, consisting of full-backs Raphael Framberger and Iago, as well as the central defenders Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Reece Oxford, as they look to offer protection for Rafal Gikiewicz in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Gikiewicz; Framberger, Gouweleeuw, Oxford, Iago; Sarenren Bazee, Dorsch, Maier, Vargas; Niederlechner, Gregoritsch
Borussia Dortmund somehow have a worse injury list than Augsburg, with the midweek’s game seeing Marco Reus, Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro picking up fresh knocks. While Guerreiro should return, Reus and Meunier have been ruled out, joining Erling Haaland, Giovanni Reyna, Mateu Morey, Manuel Akanji, Dan-Axel Zagadou and potentially Emre Can in the club’s list of absentees.
Marco Reus, Thomas Meunier and Erling Haaland will definitely not play tomorrow, according to Marco Rose.
Raphael Guerreiro will be back.#BVB
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) February 26, 2022
Marco Rose has confirmed that he will not call up any of the players from the reserve team, so he will have to make do with the current options at his disposal. Meunier and Morey’s absence at right-back could see Marius Wolf earn a start, whereas Guerreiro is likely to recover and start at left-back.
Marin Pongracic could return to the setup, forming the central defensive duo alongside Mats Hummels. But youngster Soumaila Coulibaly is expected to be given the nod, as BVB look to hand youngsters the opportunity to impress in this final stretch of the campaign.
Moving into midfield, Rose should recall Axel Witsel back into the starting eleven due to the slew of injuries to midfielders. The experienced Belgian should form the double-pivot alongside Mahmoud Dahoud, as they look to operate at the base of the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The shift in formation should see Jude Bellingham occupy the number ten role, forming Dortmund’s creative trio alongside Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard. The attack should be led by Donyell Malen, although Youssoufa Moukoko is another option, should Rose look for more youthful exuberance in the final third.
Apart from Moukoko, the likes of Reinier, Nico Schulz and Steffen Tigges may all play a crucial role off the bench, given Dortmund’s injury crisis that has taken a toll on the team’s strength in depth.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kobel; Wolf, Hummels, Coulibaly, Guerreiro; Witsel, Dahoud; Hazard, Bellingham, Brandt; Malen
- Markus Weinzierl has overseen 99 defeats in his Bundesliga coaching career, including nine against BVB, whom he has beaten only once.
- Augsburg have won 15 of their 22 points this season at home.
- Erling Haaland scored a hat-trick on his Dortmund debut in Augsburg; he has 56 goals in 57 Bundesliga games all told.
- Marco Reus has scored two goals in his past two Bundesliga games, supplying a further three assists.
- Borussia Dortmund have scored 22 goals since the turn of the year – more than any other Bundesliga club.
Player to Watch
Got what we deserved in the end after two poor performances. Can only apologise for letting the fans down again despite the unbelievable support. Respect and all the best to @RangersFC for the season. We have to start using these nights as motivation to be better, like on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/OCOV2CP9ZS
— Jude Bellingham (@BellinghamJude) February 24, 2022
After once again emerging as the only bright spark in an otherwise dire Dortmund performance against Rangers, Jude Bellingham has become the centre of attention – even more so with his reported criticism of fellow teammate Nico Schulz for his poor display in the last game.
Bellingham’s comments during the game have divided the Dortmund fanbase, and although the fans firmly back the English international, many have condemned his behaviour towards a senior teammate. Nevertheless, Bellingham remains a key player for Dortmund in this upcoming game against Augsburg, particularly in the absence of Reyna and Reus.
The teenage sensation is likely to operate as number ten, and his creativity and technical prowess in the final third could go a long way in breaching the lines of the Augsburg backline.
FC Augsburg 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
It all points to an entertaining clash at the WWK Arena, given the vulnerable nature of the two defences. Despite the 6-0 result against Gladbach last time out, Dortmund won’t be confident of their chances of securing a victory, considering their woeful record away from home coupled with a midweek defeat to Rangers.
However, the Black and Yellows remain the favourites given their attacking quality. It could be one of those rare occasions where BVB may benefit from the absence of star players, as it could mean more youthful exuberance to a team that has lacked pace and grit this season.
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