Saturday, 5th December 2015, 23:00 IST
It is crunch time in the Bundesliga on Matchday 15 as Wolfsburg host Borussia Dortmund at the Volkswagen Arena. The third placed Wolves are unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga for 29 games now and will provide the free scoring, second placed visitors a stern challenge. With both sides playing some very attractive football, a great game lies in store.
In contrast to last yearsa a all guns blazinga performances, Wolfsburg have been effective quietly so far this season with their only headline performance a 6-0 win against Werder Bremen. The 0-0 draw at Augsburg last week was a dull encounter but should be seen as 2 points lost instead of 1 point gained.
However, Dieter Heckinga s side are unbeaten in the league at home since March 2014 and havena t conceded in 3 games, rightfully putting them third on the table. The DFB Pokal and Supercup winnersa last defeat to Dortmund was way back in April 2014 giving them a small upper hand for the fixture.
Star players Luiz Gustavo and Julian Draxler have just returned from injury and may not feature on Saturday. Swiss defender Timm Klose will replace the suspended Dante in defence and start alongside Naldo and Christian Tr sch. Left-back Ricardo Rodriguez has recovered from injury and is likely to replace Marcel Sch fer.
In midfield, Dieter Hecking has opted to field a single holding player in Josuha Guilavogui this season, emphasizing a more attack minded approach. Maximilian Arnold, Vieirinha, Max Kruse and Andre SchA?rrle will form a pacy and creative midfield that should cause Dortmund a few problems. Kruse, usually a center-forward, has grown into a new deeper role allowing Bas Dost, an out-and-out striker to play ahead of him.
A win for Wolfsburg will cut the gap between the sides to just 4 points, but a loss could see them drop as low as 5th based on the other results.
Probable lineup (4-1-4-1): Benaglio-Tr sch-Naldo-Klose-Rodriguez-Guilavogui-Vieirinha-Arnold-Kruse-SchA?rrle-Dost
Borussia Dortmund bounced back after two consecutive defeats with a 4-1 victory over Stuttgart last week with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sven Bender and Gonzalo Castro particularly impressive.
Thomas Tuchela s side have been in tremendous goal scoring form, but there are still questions over their defensive performances. Mats Hummels and Sokratis Papastathopoulos may miss the game due to illness which should force Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender to start in central defence. Bender has performed surprisingly well out of position but may be physically overwhelmed by Wolfsburga s Bas Dost aerial presence.
Gonzalo Castroa s fine form could earn him a place in the starting XI this time at the expense of either Julian Weigl or Shinji Kagawa. The frontline of Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have already scored 29 goals this season but face a tough task against a tough Wolfsburg defence.
Although Erik Durm and Nuri Sahin are back in team training following their long term injuries, this game comes too soon for them.
Dortmund sit 8 points behind Bayern and 7 ahead of Wolfsburg, guaranteeing their 2nd place finish by the end of the matchday, irrespective of the results.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): BA?rki-Piszczek-Bender-Ginter-Schmelzer-Weigl-GA?ndogan-Reus-Castro-Mkhitaryan-Aubameyang
Watch out for
One of the Bundesligaa s best and most consistent defenders, the big Brazilian Naldo is a menace to opposition on both ends of the field. He scored 7 league goals last season, boasts of an 89% passing success and was voted into the Bundesliga team of the year. Against Dortmund, a strong defensive display could be vital in securing a victory.
- This is the first league meeting between Wolfsburg and Dortmund when both sides have been in the top three.
- Wolfsburg’s 29 game home unbeaten run is currently the best run in Europe’s top five leagues. Their last home loss in the league was a 6-1 defeat to Bayern in March 2014
- This will be Dieter Hecking’s 100th game as Wolfsburg manager in the Bundesliga
- Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Reus have scored 35 goals between them, forming Europe’s third best attacking trio behind Bayern’s Lewandowski, MA?ller, Costa and Barcelona’s Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Blast from the past
Herea s a look back at Dortmunda s unfortunate 3-2 defeat to the Wolves in the 2012/13 season, a game in which an “imaginary” handball and red card played a pivotal role.
Wolfsburg 2-2 Dortmund
Matches between the two rarely disappoint and expect a fiery encounter as always. Wolfsburg have fared been better off in the last few meetings between the two and considering their impressive home form, three points seem likely. However, Dortmund have impressed this season and their prolific goal scoring record should make the fixture a real close one to call. Expect a game with plenty of chances for both sides that could result in a sharing of the points.