Borussia Dortmund will shift their focus to Bundesliga as they host VfB Stuttgart at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Following yet another disappointing defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund will be determined to retain their place at the top as they host VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

It has been a disastrous Ruckrunde for the Black and Yellows, whose dismal form has allowed Bayern Munich to get level on points. The Bavarians are trailing by a minor goal difference but that could soon change, should Dortmund once again slip up this weekend.

The home side slumped to a 2-1 defeat to FC Augsburg in their last league game and coach Lucien Favre will demand a response, especially after being knocked out of the Champions League by Spurs in midweek.

As for Stuttgart, they will be full of confidence, having registered a morale-boosting 5-1 win over fellow strugglers Hannover 96 last weekend. The win helped them close the gap to 15th placed Augsburg and the Swabians could potentially move out of the relegation zone with a win over Dortmund this weekend.

That being said, the visitors have won only one of their last seven competitive fixtures against Dortmund and things could get even more difficult with the Ruhrpott giants having the backing of the yellow wall. And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both sides ahead of their enticing Bundesliga match-up this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Paco Alcacer is likely to be relegated to the bench following yet another disappointing display against Spurs. As a result, Mario Gotze will lead the Dortmund attack with Marco Reus operating in the attacking midfield position.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MARCH 04: Mario Gotze #10 of Borussia Dortmund during a Borussia Dortmund training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match against Tottenham Hotspur on March 04, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Mario Gotze will once again lead the Dortmund attack against Stuttgart. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Jacob Bruun-Larsen had a wasteful night against Tottenham and the young Dane is unlikely to replace Raphael Guerreiro in the left-midfield slot while Jadon Sancho will retain his place on the opposite flank. Maximilian Philipp is apparently ruled out with an injury.

In midfield, Mahmoud Dahoud is likely to get the nod over Thomas Delaney, who did not start against Tottenham as well. Axel Witsel, on the other hand, will retain his place in the starting lineup but will have to improve his game following a host of dismal performances since the turn of the year.

Lukasz Piszczek is still ruled out with injury, meaning we can expect Achraf Hakimi to return in the right-back slot. He will replace Marius Wolf, who received a rare start in the last game while Abdou Diallo will continue to feature on the left-back position.

In defence, Dan-Axel Zagadou could once again start on the bench, paving the way for Julian Weigl to start at the heart of the Dortmund backline. He will be partnered by Manuel Akanji, who will be tasked with the responsibility of marshalling the Black and Yellow defence.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Weigl, Akanji, Diallo; Witsel, Dahoud; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze.

VfB Stuttgart

Stuttgart are unlikely to make any changes to the side that secured a massive 5-1 win over Hannover last weekend meaning coach Markus Weinzierl will once again deploy a five at the back formation.

STUTTGART, GERMANY - MARCH 03: Head coach Markus Weinzierl of VfB Stuttgart looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96 at Mercedes-Benz Arena on March 3, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Weinzierl is likely to go with an unchanged lineup this weekend. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

New signing Ozan Kabak was excellent against Hannover, notably scoring a brace. He is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the Stuttgart defence along with Benjamin Pavard and Marc-Oliver Kempf, both of who will look to contain the mighty Dortmund attack this weekend.

Emiliano Insua and Borna Sosa will compete for a place in the left-back position but we expect the former to retain his place in the starting lineup while Andreas Beck will once again be deployed in his preferred right wing-back slot.

In midfield, Sergio Ascacibar will be partnered by Gonzalo Castro at the base of Stuttgart’s 5-2-3. Castro will return to the Signal Iduna Park for the first time after leaving the club last summer and the former Leverkusen midfielder will look to impress against his former club.

And finally, Stuttgart’s attacking setup will consist of Alexander Esswein and Steven Zuber, both of who will look to take full advantage of a vulnerable Dortmund defence that has conceded 11 goals in their last six matches in all competition. The attack will be led by former German international Mario Gomez.

Probable Lineup (5-2-3): Zieler; Beck, Kabak, Pavard, Kempf, Insua; Ascacibar, Castro; Esswein, Gomez, Zuber.

Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have kept only two clean sheets in this calendar year.
  • Borussia Dortmund have scored at least 2 goals in their last 12 home matches in the Bundesliga.
  • Dortmund have collected only six points since February. Bayern have managed 12 during that time-frame.
  • Stuttgart have lost nine of their last ten matches against table-toppers.
  • Stuttgart have failed to win their last 6 away matches in the German top-flight.

Player to Watch

Achraf Hakimi

Dortmund's defender Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring the 3-2 goal during the German Cup (DFB Pokal) last 16 football match BVB Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen in Dortmund, western Germany on February 5, 2019. (Photo by SASCHA SCHUERMANN / AFP) / DFB REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND QUASI-VIDEO. (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Hakimi has struggled to impress in the past few weeks. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the injury of Lukasz Piszczek, Achraf Hakimi hasn’t quite been able to replace the veteran defender in the right-back position, often failing to mark the opposition while his offensive game hasn’t been that effective either.

As a result, he was dropped in midweek’s crucial Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur. But, the Real Madrid loanee will have a point to prove upon his expected return to the starting lineup this weekend.

Indeed, Hakimi will play a crucial role in stopping the likes of Zuber and Insua from making inroads in the final third but it will also be interesting to see how he links up with teammates in the final third, thus making him one of the players worth looking forward to in this fascinating encounter.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 VfB Stuttgart

Dortmund will be very determined to return to winning ways following their defeat to Spurs and with the backing of the home support, we expect the Black and Yellows to collect all three points against a Stuttgart side, who have often looked clueless against top clubs this season.

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