Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to reduce the gap to the top of the table when they travel to Schwarzwald Stadion to face SC Freiburg on Sunday.
With just five matches remaining, Borussia Dortmund will be hoping for an upturn of fortunes as they look to pip Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title this season.
The Black and Yellows are currently trailing the league leaders by four points and though they have a significantly easier schedule coming up when compared to Bayern, a tricky test against Freiburg away from home would be a challenge for Lucien Favre’s men this weekend.
Dortmund are coming on the back of a remarkable win over 1. FSV Mainz 05, where a fantastic triple-save from Roman Burki in the final minute saved his side’s blushes as the Bundesliga giants came away with a narrow 2-1 victory at the Signal Iduna Park.
Coach Favre will demand a much better response this time around as his side lock horns against a Freiburg side, who have conceded seven goals in their last two matches, both of which ended in defeats.
However, Die Breisgauer Brasilianer have held both Bayern Munich and Borussia Moenchengladbach last month and have fared rather well against top teams in the Ruckrunde. And Christian Streich’s men will surely be eyeing for yet another upset as they look to move up the ladder.
Here at the Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both the sides ahead of their highly anticipated Bundesliga match-up on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Freiburg currently have a long list of absentees heading into this fixture, with Tim Kleindienst, Florian Kath, Nils Petersen and Lukas Kubler all sidelined with their respective injuries. Newcomer Roland Sallai also faces a spell on the sidelines while defender Manuel Gulde is a doubt along with Philipp Lienhart.
However, we could still expect Streich to revert to his signature 4-4-2 setup, with Keven Schlotterback partnering Dominique Heintz at the heart of the four-man backline.
Former Dortmund youth player Pascal Stenzel will occupy the right-back slot while the ever-present figure of Christian Gunter will be starting on the opposite flank. Gunter’s intelligence and work-ethic could be key in neutralizing Dortmund’s threat on the left flank.
The 4-4-2 setup could, however, force Streich to demote key midfielder Jerome Gondorf to the bench, meaning we could expect Amir Abrashi and Nicolas Hofler to form the double-pivot in midfield. Abrashi’s robust approach could be key in dealing with the technically astute midfielders that Dortmund have in long supply.
Vicenzo Grifo, meanwhile, is likely to revert to the left wing slot, with Mike Frantz occupying the opposite flank, even though the latter is expected to operate in a deeper role. As for Jannik Haberer, he will be deployed as the second striker, just behind the Freiburg number nine, Lucas Holer.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Schwolow; Stenzel, Schlotterbeck, Heintz, Gunter; Frantz, Abrashi, Hofler, Grifo; Haberer, Holer
Unlike Freiburg, Achraf Hakimi is currently the only injury-related absentee for Dortmund in this game, although Lukasz Piszczek is a doubt and is unlikely to feature tomorrow.
That means Marius Wolf is expected to deputize for the veteran defender in the right-back slot, with Abdou Diallo also retaining his place on the opposite flank. Manuel Akanji is a guaranteed starter at the heart of Dortmund’s four-man backline. The Swiss international will be partnered by Julian Weigl, who will once again be preferred ahead of Dan-Axel Zagadou.
Favre could resort to his trusted midfield duo of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney at the base of Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1. None of these two players has really been able to produce consistent performances in recent weeks and they will be thoroughly tested against the intense pressing of Freiburg.
Minimal changes are expected in attack, with Marco Reus operating as the lone attacking midfielder while Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro will occupy the wide-attacking roles. All of these players will need to be direct against a Freiburg side who are likely to employ deep-block defensive chain.
And finally, the Dortmund attack could be led by Mario Gotze, although both Paco Alcacer and Christian Pulisic are also available, having returned from their respective injuries.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Wolf, Akanji, Weigl, Diallo; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze
- Borussia Dortmund have kept a clean sheet in their last 5 away matches against Freiburg in all competitions.
- Freiburg are unbeaten in seven of their last eight home matches.
- Freiburg haven’t won any of their 15 league matches against Dortmund. Their last victory in this fixture came way back in May 2010.
- Borussia Dortmund are undefeated in 26 of their last 29 matches.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 6 of Borussia Dortmund‘s last 7 games.
Player to Watch
As iterated earlier, Freiburg will employ a deep-block defensive formation, where the midfielders could sit deep and support the centre-backs. This makes Marco Reus a vital part of the Dortmund attack as he can not only make dangerous runs in behind the defence but can also offer dynamism and pace in the final third.
However, the German international has often missed glorious opportunities throughout the course of the season – something Dortmund really can’t afford against a side, who rarely provides scoring opportunities to the opposition.
It is likely that Freiburg will appoint Amir Abrashi to keep an eye on Reus, meaning the Dortmund captain is set to face one of the toughest tests so far this campaign – making him the one to look out for in this fixture.
SC Freiburg 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund have struggled against rigid defensive teams this season, which, coupled with Freiburg’s excellent record at home could make things a lot difficult for the visitors, who haven’t exactly been convincing in recent matches. Thus, we expect the two teams to share the spoils in this one.