Borussia Dortmund will be eager to continue their excellent form as they host lowly AS Monaco at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday.

AS Monaco will be returning to one of their favourite away stadiums as they travel to Westfalenstadion to face Borussia Dortmund in the second matchday of the UEFA Champions League this season.

Two teams last met in the Champions League knockout rounds back in 2017 when the Dortmund team bus was hit by three explosive devices. The game was rescheduled and as a result, many travelling Monaco supporters were left stranded in Dortmund that night.

But, the generous home fans came to the rescue when they offered beds for away fans and accommodated most of Monaco fans inside their homes, in what was one of the prime examples as to how football can unite everyone.

Although Monaco emerged as the victors in that game, the Dortmund fans won hearts with their generosity. And they will surely be excited to host Monaco yet again at the Westfalenstadion this midweek.

Only this time, Dortmund will be keen to secure a victory, especially after coming on the back of an extraordinary 4-2 win against Leverkusen last week. However, they had a hard time beating Club Brugge in their opening group game, only managing to secure a narrow 1-0 win.

Monaco, on the other hand, have been one of the most disappointing teams in Europe’s top four, following a disastrous start to the campaign that saw them register only one win in their eight league matches so far.

They are coming on the back of an eight-game winless run and tasting yet another defeat this midweek could seriously diminish their hopes of going through to the knockout rounds, especially after slumping to a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the opening matchday.

At the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides before their highly anticipated encounter in the Champions League this week.

Team news & tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Lucien Favre is not expected to make many changes to the side that won against Leverkusen. However, Mahmoud Dahoud was rested before appearing as a substitute in the second half against Leverkusen. He will, therefore, hope to start as the lone attacking midfielder for Dortmund, having played excellent football early on this season.

Jadon Sancho’s only start this season came in the Champions League a fortnight ago but he’ll likely sit on the bench for this one, despite another impressive performance on the weekend.

Maximilian Philipp will make way for Paco Alcacer, who will lead the line this midweek after returning to full fitness last weekend. The Spaniard will be supported by the attacking trio of Pulisic, Dahoud and Reus.

Can Marco Reus guide his team to a victory against Monaco? (Photo by Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

Can Marco Reus guide his team to a victory against Monaco? (Photo by Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

In midfield, Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel will retain their place in the starting lineup, featuring at the base of Dortmund’s 4-3-3. Both the players have been clinical so far and will hope to dominate the struggling Monaco midfield on Wednesday.

In defence, Marcel Schmelzer’s likely return to the starting lineup will allow Abdou Diallo to shift to his preferred centre-back role alongside Manuel Akanji at the heart of the Dortmund defence.

Achraf Hakimi, on the other hand, has been excellent for the Black and Yellows this season, having either scored or assisted in his first two games. In addition, Lukasz Piszczek is also deemed doubtful to play this week, paving the way for Hakimi to retain his place as the Dortmund right-back.

Probable lineup  (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Diallo, Akanji, Schmelzer; Delaney, Witsel; Pulisic, Dahoud, Reus; Alcacer.

AS Monaco

The visitors could potentially face a major injury crisis with at least six of their players needing assessment before Wednesday’s clash. Stevan Jovetic, Rony Lopes, Pietro Pellegri are among the players deemed doubtful to start against Borussia Dortmund.

Regardless, however, head coach Leonardo Jardim could make some key changes from the team that suffered a battering against Saint Etienne last weekend. The Portuguese is likely to revert to a 4-2-3-1 in order to mirror Lucien Favre’s preferred formation.

Can Leonardo Jardim find the winning formula this week? (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Can Leonardo Jardim find the winning formula this week? (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

This will see Radamel Falcao lead the line while the likes of Nacer Chadli and Aleksandr Golovin will hope to return to the side, after starting on the bench against St. Etienne. Golovin, in particular, could play a key role in the attack, supported by the wide duo of Chadli and Samuel Grandsir.

In midfield, Youri Tielemans will partner Jean Eudes Aholou at the base of Monaco’s double pivot midfield while the four-man defensive line will likely comprise of Djibril Sidibe, Kamil Glik, Jemerson and Benjamin Henrichs.

Henrichs is a name well known to Bundesliga audiences, having played 62 German top-flight matches during his time with Bayer Leverkusen. Therefore, his experience of playing against Dortmund could prove to be helpful for a Monaco side who are in desperate need of a win this week.

And finally, in goal, first choice keeper Danijel Subasic has also been deemed doubtful, paving the way for Diego Benaglio, another ex-Bundesliga star, to start in between the sticks for the Ligue 1 giants.

Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Benaglio; Sidibe, Glik, Jemerson, Henrichs; Tielemans, Aholou; Grandsir, Golovin, Chadli; Falcao.

Key stats

  • AS Monaco have lost five of their last seven matches in all competitions this season with their last win coming against Nantes in the opening matchday of the 2018/19 French Ligue 1.
  • Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten under Lucien Favre, who presided over two 4-0 wins against Monaco when he was in charge of former club Nice.
  • The hosts also have a positive record at home to French teams in European competitions(W4, D3, L2).
  • Dortmund’s Abdou Diallo will be playing against his former club this week, having made only 10 Ligue 1 appearances during his three-year spell with the French giants, before being sold to Mainz in 2017.
  • Dortmund’s young gun, Jadon Sancho is currently Europe’s most effective assist provider, being the only player to acquire five assists in Europe’s top leagues so far this season, despite seeing only 124 minutes of league action.

Player to watch

Paco Alcacer

Paco Alcacer will look to continue his excellent start to the season. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Paco Alcacer will look to continue his excellent start to the season. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Since moving to Dortmund earlier this summer, Paco Alcacer has been a revelation, scoring three goals in just two competitive outings in the Bundesliga. Although a slight injury halted his progress last month, the Spaniard has been brutally effective in front goal while his interplay with the likes of Marco Reus and Mahmoud Dahoud has overshadowed the fact that it has only been a few months since he arrived at the club.

Therefore, he’ll be once again Dortmund’s main man in attack, when they host AS Monaco at the Westfalenstadion this midweek. And given his excellent record in front of goal this season, it’s really going to be very difficult for Monaco to get a hold of this highly talented Barcelona striker, making him a player worth keeping an eye on in this fascinating encounter.

Prediction

Dortmund 2-1 AS Monaco

Both teams are coming on the back of contrasting starts to their respective domestic campaigns, which could prove to be the only difference between these two equally matched teams this week. Dortmund definitely have the upper hand in this one and having scored a whopping 11 goals in their last couple of matches. Expect the Black and Yellows to score a few more against struggling Monaco on Wednesday.