Borussia Dortmund will look to maintain their impressive lead at the top as they travel to Esprit Arena to face Fortuna Dusseldorf on Tuesday.

After securing their status as Die Herbstmeister, Borussia Dortmund will look to end their Hinrunde campaign on a positive note when they face Fortuna Dusseldorf on Tuesday. This will be one of their final two matches before the Bundesliga goes into mid-season hiatus.

The Black and Yellows currently have an impressive nine-point lead over second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach and third-placed Bayern Munich. However, any mishap will allow both the teams, especially Bayern, who have been in amazing form, of late, to crawl into their necks.

Thus, Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre will be keen not to lose focus in this one but at the same time, the Swiss mastermind will be keeping one eye on the all-important Borussia derby on the weekend.

As for Dusseldorf, they haven’t really been at their very best this season, securing only 12 points in 15 matches. They also have one of the worst defences in the league, having conceded 32 goals in 15 matches, which could certainly become a problem, especially when facing the most lethal attack in the division.

That being said, the newly promoted outfit have fared rather well against top teams, notably churning out draws against RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich earlier this season.

Therefore, Dortmund most certainly need to be on their toes if they are to collect all three points from this fixture. And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both sides ahead of their crucial match-up this week.

Team news & tactics

Fortuna Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf are coming on the back of an impressive 2-0 victory over SC Freiburg last weekend and therefore, head coach Freidheim Funkel is unlikely to make any significant alterations this week.

Kaan Ayhan was the star of the show against Freiburg, scoring a brace to hand his all three points. But, the former Schalke defender is unlikely to have such freedom on the opposition half against Dortmund this week. He will partner Marcin Kaminski at the heart of the Dusseldorf defence.

DUESSELDORF, GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Kaan Ayhan #5 of Fortuna Dusseldorf celebrates with teammate Kenan Karaman after scoring his team's first goal during the Bundesliga match between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Sport-Club Freiburg at Esprit-Arena on December 15, 2018 in Duesseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Kaan Ayhan will play a key role in defence. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Matthias Zimmermann and Niko Giesselmann will continue to feature as fullbacks in Dusseldorf’s four-man defensive line.

In midfield, Kevin Stoger and Adam Bodzek will start at the base of the 4-4-2 with Takashi Usami and captain Benito Raman operating in wider positions. Raman has scored three goals this campaign and will play a key role up front, though he’s largely expected to fend off the threat provided by the opposition on the far side.

And finally, in attack, Dodi Lukebakio will partner Rouwen Hennings as they look to infiltrate the well-drilled Dortmund defence who have conceded only 15 goals this season. Lukebakio is the club’s leading scorer with six goals while former Burnley attacker Hennings has played a pivotal role for Dusseldorf in recent matches.

Predicted lineup(4-4-2): Rensing; Zimmermann, Ayhan, Kaminski, Giesselmann; Usami, Bodzek, Stoger, Raman; Hennings, Lukebakio.

Borussia Dortmund

Lucien Favre could ring in the changes this week as he looks to keep the side fresh ahead of their crucial match-up against Borussia Monchengladbach on the weekend.

Lukasz Piszczek will continue to feature as the right-back but Marcel Schmelzer could return to the side, replacing Achraf Hakimi in the left-back position. The former German international has only returned from a long injury-layoff earlier this month, which has certainly given Favre some freedom in terms of squad rotations.

MONACO - DECEMBER 11: Marcel Schmelzer of Dortmund runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between AS Monaco and Borussia Dortmund at Stade Louis II on December 11, 2018 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Vice-captain Marcel Schmelzer will return to the starting eleven this week. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, Dan-Axel Zagadou is ruled out due to an injury, meaning key defender Manuel Akanji is expected to retain his place at the heart of the Dortmund defence alongside Abdou Diallo.

Thomas Delaney will be given a rest this week as prepares himself for an intriguing battle against the Gladbach midfield. Mahmoud Dahoud will deputize for the Danish international at the base of Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1 alongside the trusted Axel Witsel.

In attack, Christian Pulisic will likely start over Jadon Sancho as the right winger while Jacob-Bruun Larsen will be given the nod ahead of Raphael Guerreiro, who has been excellent in the past couple of matches. Marco Reus, on the other hand, will operate as the attacking midfielder, looking to provide support to lone striker Paco Alcacer.

Predicted lineup(4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Schmelzer; Witsel, Dahoud; Pulisic, Reus, Bruun Larsen; Alcacer.

Key stats

  • Borussia Dortmund are the only unbeaten side in the Bundesliga and one of only four teams in Europe’s top five leagues yet to be beaten on the domestic stage this season, along with Liverpool, PSG and Juventus.
  • Dortmund have won all of their last six matches in the league and could extend their tally to seven this week.
  • The offensive duo of Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer have been involved in more goals than Dusseldorf have managed as a whole this season.
  • Paco Alcacer is the third player in the Bundesliga history to score 11 goals in his first 10 games. Previously, only Horst Hrubesch and Klaus Matischak succeeded.
  • Fortuna Duesseldorf have seen under 2.5 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches against Borussia Dortmund in all competitions.

Player to watch

Christian Pulisic

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 28: Christian Pulisic of Dortmund runs with the ball during the Group A match of the UEFA Champions League between Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge at Signal Iduna Park on November 28, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Pulisic will need to impress against Dusseldorf. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

With Jadon Sancho likely to be given a breather this week, it will be an excellent opportunity for Christian Pulisic to prove his worth.

Indeed, the American international has struggled to establish himself as a regular first-team player under Favre this season, starting in only four matches. But, his pace coupled with his direct style of play often becomes useful against teams like Dusseldorf who loves to sit deep and contain the opposition pressure.

Additionally, the 20-year-old will be keen for a move away from the Signal Iduna Park regardless and a strong performance against Dusseldorf could certainly attract some attention – making him the player to look forward to in this crucial encounter.

Prediction

Dusseldorf 0-2 Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund are in red-hot form at the moment and very few would bet against them dominating a lowly Dusseldorf on Tuesday. The Black and Yellows have netted at least two goals in each of their last five league matches and only an in-form Marco Reus could be enough to destroy the Dusseldorf defence, who have conceded 11 goals in their last six matches.