Borussia Dortmund will look to capitalise on their excellent start to the season as they meet 1.FC Koln at the RheinEnergieStadion on Friday.

Borussia Dortmund had an incredible start to their 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign. The Black and Yellows won 5-1 against relegation candidates FC Augsburg. But most importantly, Bayern Munich dropped two points against Hertha Berlin, giving the Ruhrpott giants an early two-point lead.

Dortmund initially endured the worst start possible, conceding a goal within one minute. But, a quick equaliser from Paco Alcacer and an improved second-half performance saw them secure a convincing victory against the Bavarians. The offensive trifecta of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Alcacer impressed while Julian Brandt scored on his debut for the club.

However, the Bundesliga 2018/19 runners-up have a tricky test at their hands, when they travel to RheinEnergieStadion on Friday night to face 1. FC Koln. Dortmund have a strong record against Die Effzeh in recent years. But, the hosts have an exciting squad and are coming on the back of a 2.Liga title last season.

The newly-promoted Bundesliga outfit did, however, lose their opening game against VfL Wolfsburg last weekend. They lacked incision in the final third as Simon Terodde’s late goal only turned out to be a consolation after goals from Maximilian Arnold, and Wout Weghorst had initially given the Wolves a healthy two goal lead.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their highly-anticipated Bundesliga clash on Friday.

Team News & Tactics

1.FC Koln

Christian Clemens and Ismail Jakobs are the only ones out injured for the home side. Head coach Achim Beierlorzer has appeared quite adaptive in his formation and given the quality of the opposition, it won’t be surprising to see the 51-year-old switch to a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Birgir Verstraete could be deployed as the lone holding midfielder. The new signing from KAA Gent will likely have the license to operate as an auxiliary centre-half during defensive phases, with the two supporting central midfielders in Dominick Drexler and Marco Hoger shifting into a deeper role.

Kingsley Schindler could retain his place in the starting lineup as well. The 26-year-old is likely to operate as the right-sided midfielder, with Florian Kainz operating on the opposite flank. Kainz’s ingenuity and pace in the final third will be paramount as Effzeh look to catch Dortmund on the break.

In defence, Jorge Mere is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the four-man backline. The Spaniard will be partnered by Rafael Czichos, meaning new signing Sebastiaan Bornauw will still have to wait to make his debut.

Elsewhere, Kingsley Ehizibue and captain Jonas Hector will feature as fullbacks while Timo Horn will continue to start in between the sticks. And finally, Anthony Modeste will lead the line for Koln. The Frenchman’s experience could be key if the hosts are to salvage anything from this game.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Horn; Ehizibue, Mere, Czichos, Hector; Verstraete; Schindler, Hoger, Drexler, Kainz; Modeste

Borussia Dortmund

Head coach Lucien Favre has confirmed that the club won’t be dealt with any injuries coming into this fixture. However, we could still expect the Swiss mastermind to make one slight change in the attack on Friday.

Brandt might replace Thorgan Hazard. The former Leverkusen star, as mentioned earlier, scored against Augsburg and is poised to make his full Bundesliga debut for Dortmund. Reus and Sancho will partner him in the creative three, just behind the main number nine – Alcacer.

Julian Weigl will once again be preferred ahead of Thomas Delaney in the double-pivot alongside Axel Witsel. The German has impressed a lot in the pre-season, and it won’t be surprising to see him regain his place in the starting lineup this season.

The defence stuttered at times against Augsburg last weekend, but it’s unlikely to force Favre to make any changes. Lukasz Piszczek will start ahead of Achraf Hakimi despite valid criticism in regards to his performances in recent weeks. As for Nico Schulz, he will retain his place at left-back.

Mats Hummels will continue feature in central defence alongside Manuel Akanji while Roman Burki is expected to make his return in goal, at the expense of Marwin Hitz.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji, Schulz; Weigl, Witsel; Sancho, Reus, Brandt; Alcacer.

Key Stats

  • 1. FC Koln have won almost half of their Bundesliga home games against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in each of their last five Bundesliga matches against Koln. They did the double over Koln in 2017/18 for the first time since 2011/12.
  • Borussia Dortmund have scored in each of their last eight league games in Cologne, netting 18 goals in total. The last time they failed to score there was in a 0-0 draw, back in February 2006.
  • Promoted Koln lost their opening game 2-1 against Wolfsburg. They lost each of their first five BL games two years ago and failed to taste victory in any of their opening 16 league matches.
  • Koln’s last Bundesliga win came on 18th March 2018 against Bayer Leverkusen. Including the 2017/18 campaign, they have taken two points from their last eight Bundesliga games, suffering four defeats in their previous four outings.

Player to Watch

Paco Alcacer

Alcacer strikes yet again! (Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

Will Alcacer strike yet again? (Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund number nine Alcacer has started the season on a positive note, scoring two goals against Augsburg. The Spaniard is the only real competitor for Robert Lewandowski for the Torjagerkanone this time around, and it will be interesting to see if he can manage his scoring run this week.

Alcacer will likely receive very few opportunities though, especially if Koln employ a deep defensive backline. But, a lot will depend on whether or not they opt to man-mark each of Dortmund’s four attackers, which, in turn, will give a lot more freedom to the midfielders.

Either way, Alcacer will be desperate to extend his scoring tally as Dortmund look for another win on Friday.

Prediction

1. FC Koln 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund certainly won’t have it easy against a Koln backline that can remain organised and not act all erratic like Augsburg. However, given the attacking firepower they have, we expect them to secure a win. They are also likely to keep a clean sheet as the hosts provide minimal threat going forward.

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