As the jam-packed schedule of the month of February is into its second week, the German Cup resumes action as last year’s runners up Borussia Dortmund face Vfb Stuttgart in the quarterfinals of the competition on Wednesday for a place in the semifinals for the third consecutive season. 2013 finalists Vfb Stuttgart look revitalized under Jurgen Kramny and could pose a significant threat to Borussia Dortmund who had to endure a frustrating 0-0 draw against Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Pokal Format Gives Kramny The Freedom To Express His Ideas:
After guiding relegation threatened Stuttgart out of the drop zone with a string of impressive displays in the Bundesliga, Jurgen Kramny will have the freedom to put his creative ideas to test against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal, where there is no danger of slipping down the table. With his frontline which has been the main reason for the side’s recent resurgence, Kramny will once again look to find a way through Dortmund’s unconvincing defence. With a 4-1-4-1 formation that has been highly effective in the victories against Hamburg, FC Koln and Eintracht Frankfurt in the league, Kramny will look to make use of his highly creative midfield in the form of Filip Kostic, Christian Gentner to cause Dortmund problems with their pin point crossing and through balls. The Swabians will likely to look to have significant spells of possession and score in those periods against their high pressing opponents.
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Weekend Frustration Will Not Stop Tuchel From Imposing His Style:
Even though his side had to endure a goalless draw against Hertha Berlin on a rainy Saturday evening which is a rarity under his reign, Thomas Tuchel will look to push his side to score goals in the Pokal to make up for the blank drawn in the Bundesliga. Even though they had it easy in the opening rounds against inferior sides, Dortmund will face their first important test against Stuttgart who are in great form. In order to minimise the threat from Stuttgart’s in-form frontline, Tuchel will look to stifle the Swabians at the centre of the park by playing a 4-3-3 with Julian Weigl circulating the ball in short passes to keep Stuttgart from having the ball. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will most probably drop deeper than usual to move the ball more quickly into the final third to feed the runs of Reus and Aubameyang. Having more of the ball, and sealing a place in the final four will be on Tuchel’s mind.
Marco Reus Vs Daniel Schwaab
Even though niggling injuries have kept Marco Reus away from the pitch at regular intervals there has been no dip in form for the German international who has 14 goals across all competitions this season. Even though Aubameyang was kept quiet all evening against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, Reus had been livelier throughout the match which points at the threat he can pose for Daniel Schwaab who will be assigned the duty to mark him. The 27 year-old will look for some support from Reus’s old teammates Mitch Langerak and newly signed Kevin Grosskreutz in order to stop him from going on his mazy dribbles from the wing.
Mats Hummels Vs Timo Werner
Mats Hummels might have been lucky to get away with a howler of an own goal against Ingolstadt on Matchday 19 in the Bundesliga, he will again find it complicated to deal with Stuttgart’s Timo Werner who has found a new rhythm under Jurgen Kramny. Dortmund’s captain has been either mighty good or equally naive at the back during this season, and one bad day at the office could lead to his defensive line leaking goals against Stuttgart. With midfielders Filip Kostic, Christian Gentner and Lukas Rupp whipping in some delightful crosses for Werner, Hummels should be very careful while marking the 20-year-old forward.
Christian Gentner Vs Julian Weigl
The most crucial battle of all will be in the midfield, and it may even be the deciding factor for Wednesday’s game. Dortmund’s best passer will go toe-to-toe with Stuttgart’s best tackler in the midfield. Both Christian Gentner and Julian Weigl are the key to their respective sides. The Stuttgart captain has been in fine form, recently dropping deep to collect the ball then moving on with the team to create chances, and if possible scoring a goal on his own. Julian Weigl has been a key figure for Dortmund’s midfield dominance this season, and it will be interesting to see how he comes up against an experienced player like Gentner.
- Their new found form is the biggest strength for the Swabians who are on a 6-match unbeaten run, and Saturday’s 4-2 win against Eintracht Frankfurt will have them high on confidence to face Dortmund.
- Stuttgart’s frontline of Daniel Didavi, Filip Kostic, Christian Gentner and Timor Werner have combined to score 10 of their last 12 goals in the past four matches, and will pose a great threat in attack for Dortmund.
- Jurgen Kramny’s reign at Stuttgart started off with a crushing defeat at the hands of Dortmund before they recovered to go on a 6 match undefeated streak — a fact which will be playing on their minds, presenting a psychological advantage for Dortmund.
- Even though they have won the competition three times and are the only team besides Bayern and Dortmund to reach the final in the past four years, Stuttgart are up against a superior opposition which can cause enough damage to their gradually improving defence.
- Their attacking trio of Marco Reus, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can easily dispatch any defence, and it will need a lot of thinking from opponents to stop them in their tracks.
- By reaching 3 finals in the past four seasons, Dortmund have been the most consistent teams in the competition in recent years. Despite enduring a goalless draw on the weekend, Dortmund are always the favourites to go through to the next round, posing a psychological advantage.
- Their inconsistent back line is a major problem for the team, and can pose an opportunity for Dortmund’s opposition to create chances, if they can chase long balls over Dortmund’s high line defence.
- Aubameyang’s non involvement can cause many problems for the visitors, as often teams have been successful when they manage to keep the striker quiet just like Hertha did last week to blunt Dortmund’s attack.