Borussia Dortmund will be hoping for a miracle as they play hosts to Fortuna Dusseldorf at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.
The former Bundesliga league leaders are trailing current league leaders Bayern Munich by four points. And with just two games left to play, Borussia Dortmund will be hoping for a miracle as they aim to win their first league title since 2012.
But first, Dortmund’s primary objective will be to collect all three points against Fortuna Dusseldorf. The Black and Yellows were held to a 2-2 draw by Werder Bremen last weekend, and coach Lucien Favre will demand a response as his influence in the Dortmund camp goes thinner by the day.
As for Dusseldorf, they are currently sitting tenth in the league table, trailing ninth-placed Bremen by a whopping six points. Hence, the Bundesliga new boys won’t have a chance to finish in the top half of the league table, but a win against Dortmund could turn out to be a highlight of their excellent season under Friedhelm Funkel.
In fact, winning at Dortmund this weekend could help Dusseldorf complete the double as they were one of only four sides who have beaten the Black and Yellows this season. The win did play a key role in weakening their position in the league table and allowing Bayern to kickstart in what followed, an incredible comeback by the Bavarians.
And, here at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over both the sides ahead of their important fixture on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Favre will continue to miss out on the services of Marius Wolf and Marco Reus, both of whom are serving suspensions. Hence, we could expect Lukasz Piszczek to retain his place in the right-back slot while Abdou Diallo will occupy the opposite flank.
Julian Weigl, meanwhile, is likely to get the nod ahead of Dan-Axel Zagadou despite his poor performances in the past few weeks. Manuel Akanji will partner Weigl at the heart of Dortmund’s four-man backline.
The midfield will also remain unchanged with Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney forming the double pivot. Both the players have lacked consistency since the turn of the year and will be eyeing to impress Favre this weekend.
Mario Gotze will continue to deputise for the suspended Reus in the lone attacking midfield role while the attack will be led by Paco Alcacer. Jadon Sancho is a guaranteed starter in the right wing slot while Christian Pulisic will start on the opposite flank. This will be Pulisic’s last game at the Signal Iduna Park before he joins Chelsea after the end of the campaign.
Maximilian Philipp and Mahmoud Dahoud will provide Favre with additional options in the attacking department.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Weigl, Akanji, Diallo; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Gotze, Pulisic; Alcacer
Funkel could make only one attacking change this weekend, with Dodi Lukebakio coming in for Kenan Karaman. The Watford loanee will operate on the left wing slot, which, in turn, will allow Dawid Kownacki to shift into the centre-forward role alongside Rouwen Hennings.
Kevin Stoger and Adam Bodzek are two guaranteed starters in central midfield. Their work ethic and commitment will be vital in dealing with the likes of Witsel and Delaney this weekend.
Elsewhere, Benito Raman will continue to feature on the right wing slot. The 24-year-old has notched up ten goals this season and will be crucial on the counter.
In defence, Matthias Zimmermann will deputise for the injured Jean Zimmer in the right-back position. Markus Suttner, on the other hand, will occupy the opposite flank.
Marcel Kaminski is also expected to make his return to the starting lineup, at the expense of Andre Hoffmann. The Polish defender will partner Kaan Ayhan at the heart of Dusseldorf’s four-man backline.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Schwolow; Zimmermann, Ayhan, Kaminski, Suttner; Raman, Stoger, Bodzek, Lukabakio; Kownacki, Hennings
- Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in seven Bundesliga matches at home against Dusseldorf – their longest such run.
- Dortmund’s last home loss against Dusseldorf came way back in February 1986.
- Fortuna Dusseldorf have beaten Dortmund 15 times in the Bundesliga – more than versus any other side.
- F95 have only lost one of the last five competitive meetings in this fixture – 2-1 at home in April 2013.
- Only two teams have conceded more goals than Dusseldorf this season – both the teams are in the relegation zone.
Player to Watch
Christian Pulisic will be expecting a warm reception when he starts at the Signal Iduna Park for one last time this weekend. The American international agreed on a big-money move to Chelsea earlier this year and is set to arrive at Stamford Bridge at the end of this campaign.
This hasn’t exactly been a productive season for Pulisic. But, he still has a respectable 25 goals and 15 assists in just over 120 competitive appearances for Dortmund. The youngster scored a breathtaking goal in the draw with Bremen last weekend, which should give him the confidence to deliver for the Black and Yellows for one last time, in front of the Yellow Wall.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Despite their shaky form coming into this fixture, Dortmund are the absolute favourites to collect all three points this weekend. The Black and Yellows will have the home advantage while their strong attacking unit will be enough to breach a leaky Dusseldorf side that has conceded as many as 61 goals this season. We expect a 2-0 win for the hosts.