Bundesliga’s two Borussias battle each other on Saturday in one of the matches that will go on to have a major bearing on the Champions League race and the Bundesliga title race.

Their previous encounter on the opening day of the season had resulted in Gladbach being dispatched for 4 – 0 loss, but a lot has changed since then at Borussia Park. Their current coach, Andre Schubert who took over the reigns from Lucien Favre has led the Foals from relegation danger to fourth in the league table. Dortmund on the other hand will be looking to close in on the gap between them and Bayern as Thomas Tuchel’s men go in search of silverware in three years.

Thomas Tuchel To Keep The Ball And Tempo High

When Thomas Tuchel took the job of head coach at Dortmund many expected Dortmund too make good progress in his first season at the club and be ready to challenge for the title after that. But the team has taken rapid strides towards improving their game and as a result are playing their most exciting football in the league this season. Their attacking prowess, which was the key under the reign of Jurgen Klopp, has once again shone throughout this campaign but the style of their football is not exactly the same. Tuchel likes to keep more of the ball and move it around quickly to convert it into attacks.

The front three of Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang have been perfectly executing the attacks started by Julian Weigl and Ilkay Gundogan at the centre of the park. Dortmund play several short passes in the middle with the forwards dropping deep to collect the ball and attack at full throttle with a direct approach once the ball reaches the final third. It would be interesting see how Tuchel finds a way around against Gladbach’s tough tackling midfield. 

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Tough Tackling And Counter Attacks Schubert’s Road To Resurgence

After their leaky defence and directionless midfield conceded 12 goals in the opening five games under Lucien Favre, incoming coach Andre Schubert has quickly taken the steps to fix these issues. Schubert started using attacking wing backs infront of a four line defence to add extra protection and attack with width on the flanks. This has brought a remarkable turnaround at Gladbach as the Foals have since scored 32 goals and conceded 18 collecting 29 points on the way to the top. Against the short passing midfield of Dortmund, and absence of captain Granit Xhaka through suspension would pose a question for Schubert as he would be missing the surging runs behind the defence that Xhaka is usually capable of. The formation could be slightly tweaked to 3-5-2 instead of the usual 4-4-2 to provide more protection at the back to stop Dortmund’s pacey attacks.

Key Battles:

Mats Hummels Vs Lars Stindl

Though an attacking midfielder by trade, Lars Stindl has been flourishing in the Striker’s role in the new look Gladbach side alongside Raffael scoring five goals and assisting four. His battle with the error prone Dortmund skipper Mats Hummels will be interesting to watch. And with Dortmund opting out to play out a high line defence, it will be intriguing to see how Hummels manages to track down Stindl’s runs.

Havard Nordtveit Vs Julian Weigl

With Granit Xhaka suspended for Saturday’s clash, the responsibility of breaking down Dortmund’s attacks is on Havard Nordtveit. The Norwegian has been a vital part of Schubert’s plans, switching between central midfield and defence depending on the situation of the match. Julian Weigl, who has been one of the finds of this seasons, will be Nordtveit’s main target at the centre of the park. It will be difficult to stop Weigl’s passing intricacy who has a league high of 92% pass success rate.

Aubameyang Vs Andreas Christensen

Stopping the league’s top scorer is always a tricky task and when it is Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in full flow, it becomes all the more daunting. The Gabon international’s pace and dribbling is more than handful for any defender and Chelsea loanee Christensen will have to match the intensity of the Dortmund striker in order to stop the searing attacks in the final third. 

Borussia Monchengladbach

Strengths

  • Strength on the counter. Losing possession to the Foals means teams have to quickly regroup at the back as their transition from defence to attack is lightning quick with the likes of Fabian Johnson, Raffael and Lars Stindl quick movement over the ball.
  • Attacking wing backs have been one of the other reasons for Gladbach’s resurgence as they look to overload the wings with the full backs and the wing backs which has been key for their victory against Bayern on Matchday 15.

Weakness

  • Overly dependant on Raffael for goals has led to a defeat against Bayer Leverkusen just before the winter break where the absence of the Brazilian has affected the mentality in the attacking third as new recruit Josep Drmic has failed to link up effectively with Stindl.
  • Weakness to defend against teams which play with higher intensity. They were held to a goalless draw against Ingolstadt and defeat against Leverkusen are fine examples of Gladbach’s problems against aggressive teams.

Borussia Dortmund

Strengths

  • Dortmubd’s high flying attack is the strength for the league’s top scorers who have developed great understanding in the final third which has led to them amassing 47 goals in 17 Bundesliga matches.
  • Aubameyang’s fiery goal scoring streak has made him unplayable in the Bundesliga this season and stopping him will be the main task for Gladbach defence.

Weakness

  • Brittle defence of Dortmund have already conceded 23 times and their high line is one of their main weaknesses for opposition attackers to cash in on.
  • If the opposition team scores the first goal, Dortmund find it difficult to come from behind as they have found themselves trailing on four occasions this season but only managed to win once.

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