Borussia Dortmund will take on 1. FC Koln at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, hoping to keep up the pressure on Bayern Munich at the top of the table.

After hitting their first domestic bump of 2023, Borussia Dortmund must get back to winning ways swiftly to keep the Bundesliga title race exciting ahead of facing Bayern Munich in the much-awaited Der Klassiker after the international break.

A thrilling Revierderby draw last time out was not optimal for Borussia Dortmund in their title bid. And with that coming off the back of being ousted from the Champions League at the hands of a pretty average and out-of-form Chelsea side, Edin Terzic’s men are in desperate need of an instant recovery.

Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl blamed a lack of focus and efficiency for the draw at Schalke. Dortmund were clearly the superior team, but they failed to convert more of their chances, while the home club pulled level twice owing to some sloppy defending from the visitors. While injuries have played a role, Terzic should still have had enough quality players to beat Schalke.

Dortmund started the year with ten wins on the spin across all competitions. And that is the kind of ruthless form they need to get back to if they are planning to pip Bayern from the top spot. Fortunately for them, they face a Koln that has yet to win away from home in 2023, which may be just what they need to get back on track.

Koln are not having the best of seasons and have drawn the most games in the division, failing to score in six of their last seven league outings, including the last four. They have scored the fewest number of goals of anyone in the German top flight in 2023, with just three to their name.

It is safe to say they are sleepwalking into a closely-contested relegation scrap. If results do not improve and they remain in this rut between now and the end of the season, there is a distinct possibility that they could get relegated from the Bundesliga this season.

Steffen Baumgart’s side currently sit 12th in the Bundesliga standings at the moment, with 27 points from 24 matches. They are seven points above the relegation zone but are far from safe, with Schalke and Hertha Berlin picking up some big results since the turn of the year.

While it seems FC Koln have a tall task on their hands against a second-placed Dortmund side at first glance, the visitors can take solace from the fact that they registered an incredible 3-2 win against them in the reverse fixture at Rhine Energie Stadion earlier this season. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

In a big boost for Borussia Dortmund, Edin Terzic looks set to welcome Marco Reus back into the squad for their Bundesliga encounter against FC Koln this weekend. The skipper missed the trip to Schalke last weekend but is now back in team training.

Julian Brandt, who was arguably in the best form of his life before he had to go off injured against Chelsea, in the first leg, and Karim Adeyemi are both nearing a return from their respective muscle and thigh injuries. Meanwhile, Gregor Kobel should return between the sticks. But long-term absentees Youssoufa Moukoko, Julien Duranville, and Mateu Morey remain sidelined and are still some way off their recovery.

Emre Can will also miss Saturday’s game. The former Liverpool enforcer is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the Bundesliga last weekend. Former FC Koln midfielder Salih Ozcan could slot into his place in the starting XI.

Raphael Guerreiro could start in midfield once again after impressing alongside Jude Bellingham in the midfield trio against Schalke. At the back, Niklas Sule should come into the starting XI in place of Mats Hummels to partner Nico Schlotterbeck. The Germany central defensive pairing will be flanked by Julian Ryerson and Marius Wolf.

Sébastien Haller was supposed to fill the void left by Erling Haaland’s departure from Manchester City. But the Ivory Coast internationalhas struggled since returning in January following a six-month absence for testicular cancer treatment. He has scored just one goal in 12 appearances in all competitions.

Terzic has stated the only way to get him back to his best is game time. So he will once again lead the line, feeding off the service from attacking midfield duo Reus and Donyell Malen.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Kobel; Wolf, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Ryerson; Bellingham, Ozcan, Guerreiro; Reus, Malen; Haller

FC Koln

FC Koln will be without a number of first-team players on Saturday. Jan Thielmann is out with a thigh injury. And while defenders Luca Kilian and Kristian Pedersen are both nearing returns from muscle injuries, this game might come too soon for the duo.

Florian Dietz suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and will be missing for several months, while Mark Uth remains on the sidelines after a pelvic operation. Sebastian Andersson is also on his way back from knee surgery.

Die Geißböcke come into the encounter against Borussia Dortmund fresh off the back of a 2-0 Bundesliga defeat at the hands of Bochum. Steffen Baumgart’s side have also failed to find the back of the net in six of their last seven games. But they will certainly be up for the battle against Dortmund. FC Koln are likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Borussia Dortmund.

Marvin Schwabe will be between the sticks for the visitors, while Steffen Tigges could start up front against his former club. With five goals and six assists to his name in the Bundesliga this season, winger Florian Kainz is the club’s leading scorer and has been one of the most inventive players in the league this season.

He will be eager to generate scoring opportunities in the forthcoming match against Dortmund. Maina and Ljubicic will be the other two attacking midfielders. Julian Chabot and Timo Hubers will be the preferred central defensive pairing for Baumgart. Benno Schmitz and Jonas Hector will run their errands from the right and left sides of the defence, respectively.

The two-man midfield will be led by Eric Martel and Ellyes Skhiri, and with an energetic box-to-box poacher like Jude Bellingham in the opposite ranks, the Koln midfielders must be extremely cautious to not leave open spaces in midfield.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schwabe; Schmitz, Hübers, Chabot, Hector; Martel, Skhiri; Maina, Ljubicic, Kainz; Tigges

Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have come out on top in eight of their last nine Bundesliga games.
  • Meanwhile, Koln are yet to win a game on the road since the turn of the year.
  • Borussia Dortmund are undefeated in 14 of their last 15 home matches against FC Koln across all competitions.
  • FC Koln have failed to score in six of their last seven Bundesliga matches.
  • Borussia Dortmund have scored at least two goals in nine of their last ten Bundesliga matches.

Player to Watch

Raphael Guerreiro

Embed from Getty Images

Usually a full-back, Raphael Guerreiro has been replaced by Julian Ryerson as the club’s first-choice left-back in recent weeks. Edin Terzic deployed the Portuguese international in central midfield in last weekend’s derby meeting with Schalke 04.

And the 29-year-old thrived in his new role and made a big impact, scoring one goal and setting up another during the 2-2 draw. Guerreiro has a total of four goals and nine assists to his name in 26 appearances across all competitions for Borussia Dortmund so far this season.

While BVB could not see out their lead, The Hard Tackle are backing Guerreiro to have another good game this weekend against Koln, and that will likely lead to an impressive 3 points on the board for Die Borussen.


Borussia Dortmund 2-0 FC Koln

Dortmund lost ground in the title race, dropping a couple of points on derby day when they drew at local rivals Schalke last time out. But BVB have been very consistent at Signal Iduna Park, having won eight of their last nine Bundesliga fixtures, playing out a draw on just one occasion along the way, that too against Bayern Munich. Dortmund are strong enough to extend that run at Koln’s expense.

Dortmund’s home games have been packed to the hilt with excitement this term, and this Saturday would be no exception. FC Koln are also in poor form at the moment. So it is hard to see anything but a comprehensive win for Dortmund in this particular Bundesliga encounter.

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