Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid will lock horns at Westfalenstadion in a top-of-the-table clash in Group A of the UEFA Champions League

Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League group stage will culminate on Wednesday with eight games on show. One of the more interesting ties will feature Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid going head to head at the Signal Iduna Park, with top spot in Group A on the line.

Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are level on points in Group A after winning each of their first two games. The only thing separating the two sides is goal difference, and by the slimmest of margins (Dortmund’s +4 to Los Rojiblancos’ +3).

As far as the recent form is concerned, Borussia Dortmund come into this game on the back of a stellar run, having last failed to end up on the winning side over a month ago. Their solid domestic form has seen Die Schwarzgelben romp up to the top of the Bundesliga table, three points clear of the chasing pack.

Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, have not quite gotten into their stride yet in La Liga, having struggled to string together a solid winning run thus far. Their latest result – a 1-1 draw against Villarreal – has left Los Rojiblancos fifth on the league table, although Barcelona’s own struggles means Diego Simeone’s men are just two points off the summit.

Atletico Madrid were the victors the last time they faced off against Borussia Dortmund, recording a 2-1 win at Westfalenstadion in the 1996-97 UEFA Champions League group stage. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have been on a roll lately. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund have been on a roll this season. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lucien Favre has a few injury concerns that are hampering his preparations for the visit of Atletico Madrid. On Wednesday, the Borussia Dortmund boss could be without as many as seven first-team players due to various fitness issues.

In particular, Favre will be sweating over the fitness of in-form striker Paco Alcacer, who has picked up a knock and is facing a race against time to be available for the test against Atletico Madrid. Even if fully fit, the Borussia Dortmund manager could choose to name the Barcelona loanee on the bench, with Maximilian Philipp taking his place as the focal point of the attack.

Another big decision that Favre will have to make will be the choice of the wingers to accompany Philipp and captain Marco Reus. Jadon Sancho looks like a certain starter following his blistering start to the season. But, the final spot in attack will be a toss-up between Christian Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen.

The Danish winger is in great form heading into the match, and has been more consistent that Pulisic. And, with Wednesday’s Champions League tie having such high stakes, Favre could continue with Bruun Larsen on the left side of the Borussia Dortmund attack.

Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney should be the midfield pivot, with the duo’s hustling mentality and ability on the ball making them ideal opponents against Atletico Madrid’s hard tackling ways.

At the back, meanwhile, the absence of Manuel Akanji, Marcelo Schmelzer, Raphael Guerreiro and Jeremy Toljan means the defensive unit pretty much picks itself. The back four comprising of Lukasz Piszczek, Abdou Diallo, Dan Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi should provide cover to Roma Burki, who has been somewhat improved of late.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Diallo, Zagadou, Hakimi; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Bruun Larsen; Philipp

Borussia Dortmund

Atletico Madrid

Unlike his opposite number, Diego Simeone has just one pressing issue to contend with ahead of the trip to Dortmund. On Wednesday, the Atletico Madrid manager will be without just one player, with Jose Maria Gimenez not travelling with the squad due to his ongoing recovery from a thigh injury.

In fact, there is more good news than bad for the visitors ahead of the crunch Champions League tie, with Stefan Savic (calf) and Diego Costa (hamstring) apparently recovering from their respective injuries to be part of the travelling squad.

Simeone should restore both Costa and Savic to the starting lineup, with the duo being so crucial to their side’s fortunes. The players making way for the returning duo should be Filipe Luis and Nikola Kalinic, with the former’s ouster meaning Lucas Hernandez will be the left-back.

The pivotal men for Atletico Madrid will again be the indefatigable defensive unit, comprising of Savic, Hernandez, Juanfran, club captain Diego Godin and super keeper Jan Oblak. In midfield, summer signing Rodri will have tough task keeping a lid on Marco Reus, but will have the experienced head of Koke by his side.

With a win being imperative on Wednesday, Thomas Lemar should get the nod in a more attack minded side, with Saul Niguez lining up on the opposite flank. Upfront, Costa will have Atleti’s talisman Antoine Griezmann for company, with the former in need of some inspiration.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Savic, Hernandez; Saul, Rodri, Koke, Lemar; Griezmann, Costa

Atleti

Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have coincidentally gone on to win the competition in which they have faced off against Atletico Madrid. The German outfit lifted the UEFA Champions League in 1997, when they met Los Rojiblancos in the group stage, while winning the 1965-66 European Cup Winners’ Cup following a quarter-final win over the visitors.
  • Despite their solid form this season, Borussia Dortmund need to improve their fortunes in Europe, having won just three of their last 13 UEFA Champions League ties (D3 L7).
  • Atletico Madrid have lost on 10 of their 19 competitive visits to Germany (W6 D3).
  • However, Los Rojiblancos will take heart from their recent form, having not been beaten in any of their last eight outings (W5 D3).
  • Borussia Dortmund though, will be a confident bunch themselves, more so due to their strong record at home against Spanish opposition (W7 D4 L3).

Player to Watch

Jadon Sancho

The prodigy is taking flight. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The prodigy is taking flight. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There has been very little stopping Borussia Dortmund this season, with their squad gelling quite quickly under Lucien Favre. A lot of the credit for that has to go down to the creative abilities of Jadon Sancho, who has an astounding 8 assists already to his name in the current campaign.

His numbers make for promising reading as far as the hosts are concerned, and if the young Englishman can continue his strong form, the often impregnable Atletico Madrid might just be breached. All in all, it goes without saying that the electric prospect will be hugely key for Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Atletico Madrid

Borussia Dortmund have been the talk of the town in Germany and beyond following their staggering start to the 2018-19 season. Top of the table in Bundesliga and their UEFA Champions League group, they face their toughest test yet in an Atletico Madrid side that is still not at its best.

For Diego Simeone, the major concern will be the form of Diego Costa, who hasn’t quite managed to come to the party so far. If the Spanish international’s struggles continue, Los Rojiblancos might have to overly depend on its solid defence so as to take something from the match.

But, the Borussia Dortmund juggernaut might not even be stopped by Atletico Madrid in this form. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle predicts another big night for Lucien Favre’s men, who should record a 2-1 win to take sole lead of Group A in the UEFA Champions League.