Borussia Dortmund will play their first home game since the turn of the year as they welcome Hannover 96 at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Following a shocking defeat to Fortuna Dusseldorf, Borussia Dortmund have done quite well to seal back to back wins against Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig. And the Black and Yellows will look to maintain their good run of form as they host Hannover this weekend.

The hosts are six points clear at the top of the table but any mishap could allow defending champions Bayern Munich to claw their way back to the top.

However, Lucien Favre will be delighted with his side’s defensive solidity in recent games, despite missing out on the services of his key defenders. After keeping a clean sheet against Leipzig last weekend, the Ruhr giants became the joint meanest side in the league along with Gladbach and Leipzig, who previously held the record of having the best defence in the league.

As for Hannover, there has been a lot of speculation regarding coach Andre Breitenreiter’s future at the club. And even though the 45-year-old is still in charge Die Roten, the former Schalke boss is definitely on thin ice as he looks to guide his team out of the relegation scrap.

Hannover are currently languishing at the bottom end of the table, having secured just 11 points from 18 matches. And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at their chances of causing an upset this weekend as they take on the Bundesliga league leaders.

Team news & tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Favre will still miss out on the services of key defenders Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou while new signing Leonardo Balerdi is out on international duty. However, Omer Toprak is believed to be back in contention along with club captain Marco Reus.

That being said, Toprak is unlikely to be given a starting berth this weekend, keeping in mind, Julian Weigl’s excellent performance against Leipzig. The German international, will, therefore, retain his place at the heart of the Dortmund defence alongside Abdou Diallo.

MONACO - DECEMBER 11: Julian Weigl 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)

Weigl could retain his place in the starting lineup after an impressive showing against Leipzig. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Achraf Hakimi will once again be given the nod ahead of Marcel Schmelzer in the left-back slot while Lukasz Piszczek is a guaranteed starter in the opposite flank.

Axel Witsel scored the only goal in the win over Leipzig and the Belgian will look to produce another impressive display alongside Thomas Delaney at the base of Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1.

In attack, the return of Marco Reus will see Maximilian Philipp relegated to the bench while the duo of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro is likely to retain their place in the wide attacking roles.

They will look to serve central striker Mario Gotze, who could once again be preferred over Paco Alcacer.

Probable lineup(4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Weigl, Diallo, Hakimi; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze.

 

Hannover 96

Breitenreiter will be dealt with a long injury list with players like Timo Hubers, Ihlas Bebou, Edgar Prib and Takuma Asano facing a spell on the sidelines. He will also miss on the services of key attackers Niklas Fullkrug and Linton Maina while Genki Haraguchi is out on international duty.

HANOVER, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: Andre Breitenreiter, head coach of Hannover 96 looks on during an interview prior to the Bundesliga match between Hannover 96 and SV Werder Bremen at HDI-Arena on January 19, 2019 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Breitenreiter is on the risk of losing his job. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Even though the Hannover boss will not be missing out on any of his key defenders, it’s likely that he may revert to a four-man backline in order to mirror Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1.

As a result, Felipe will replace Kevin Wimmer at the heart of the Hannover backline. The Brazilian will be partnered by new signing Kevin Akpoguma with Oliver Sorg and Miiko Albornoz occupying the fullback slots.

Minimal changes are expected in midfield with Waldemar Anton, Walace and Pirmin Schwegler all retaining their place at the base of Hannover’s 4-1-2-3.

In attack, Bobby Wood will deputize for the injured Fullkrug while the wider attacking roles will be occupied by Hendrick Weydandt and Nicolai Muller, who joined from Eintracht Frankfurt this January.

Probable lineup(4-1-2-3): Esser; Sorg, Felipe, Akpoguma, Albornoz; Anton; Schwegler, Walace; Muller, Wood, Weydandt.

Key stats

  • Hannover have failed to win their last 21 away matches.
  • Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre has secured 10 wins against Hannover in the Bundesliga – more than any other side in the German top flight.
  • Dortmund have secured 45 points – every previous side with 45 or more points to their name after Matchday 18 has gone on to lift the title.
  • The Black and Yellows also have a strong record against their weekend opponents at home, winning seven of the last eight encounters.
  • Borussia Dortmund have scored at least 2 goals in their last 9home matches.

Player to watch

Raphael Guerreiro

Dortmund's Portuguese defender Raphael Guerreiro and Bremen's Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund vs Werder Bremen in Dortmund, western Germany, on December 15, 2018. (Photo by Patrik STOLLARZ / AFP) / RESTRICTIONS: DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A creative force in the middle. (Photo by Patrik Stollarz / AFP)

Following the absence of Reus, it was Raphael Guerreiro who emerged as the main creative outlet for Dortmund against Leipzig last weekend. He has also been crucial to the Black and Yellows’ winning run in the past couple of games.

And we expect the Portuguese international to continue his good form this weekend. His nimble footwork and quick-witted play allow him to evade the pressure exerted by the opposition defenders that can be a perfect antidote to Hannover’s intense pressing, especially in midfield and in half spaces.

Therefore, the visitors certainly need to do their homework on how to stop this talented playmaker, who can very well make an impact this weekend.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Hannover 96

Hannover have picked up only two points in their last seven matches and given their lack of attacking resources, it’s unlikely that they will cause an upset this weekend, especially against a Dortmund side who have mustered the best offensive record in the league. Thus, we expect a comfortable 3-0 win for the league leaders.