Borussia Dortmund will be hoping to seal a place in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League when they meet Slavia Praha on Tuesday.
Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed a bright start to December, kicking it off with a 5-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday. They are now just five points behind league leaders Borussia Monchengladbach and are leading Bayern Munich by two points.
On Tuesday, they could achieve another positive outcome by sealing a win over Slavia Praha in the UEFA Champions League. Indeed, the Black and Yellows are currently third in the Group F table but still have an excellent chance of qualifying, especially with Inter Milan facing an in-form FC Barcelona in the other fixture.
Slavia Praha, however, have raised a quite a lot of eyebrows, notably securing draws against Inter Milan and Barcelona earlier in the campaign. And with nothing to lose, they would look to cause an upset against a Dortmund side, who could appear fragile due to the pressure of qualifying to the knockout stages.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both the sides before they lock horns at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday evening.
Tactics & Team News
Lucien Favre could persist with a three-man backline again, especially with the injury to both Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel, both of whom are ruled out for the rest of the year. It could pave the way for Julian Brandt to be withdrawn into a midfield role, with Julian Weigl playing alongside.
In defence, Mats Hummels will return in contention after missing the Dusseldorf game due to suspension. He could be reinstated in his position in central defence. Only this time, Lukasz Piszczek could be sacrificed in favour of Dan-Axel Zagadou, who could partner Hummels and Manuel Akanji in the three-man backline.
Elsewhere, Achraf Hakimi is likely to operate as a right wing-back. His pace and offensive prowess could aid BVB, especially with Brandt playing in midfield. Raphael Guerreiro could start on the opposite flank, ahead of Nico Schulz even though the Portuguese did also start in the last game.
And finally, in attack, Paco Alcacer may finally return to the starting lineup, after recovering to full fitness earlier this month. The Spaniard is expected to lead the Dortmund line alongside Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, both of who bagged a brace against Dusseldorf.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou; Hakimi, Weigl, Brandt, Guerreiro; Sancho, Alcacer, Reus
It won’t be surprising to see Slavia play attacking football with a high line of press since they have nothing to lose. Hence, we expect Nicolae Stanciu to start in the advanced midfield role. He will be tasked with the responsibility of providing the creative essence going forward.
Stanciu will be further aided by the presence of Petr Sevcik and Julian Husbauer. These two will look to hurry and hassle the decimated Dortmund midfield that will be without the services of Witsel and Delaney.
The Slavia attack is likely to be led by Peter Olayinka and Lukas Masopust. Olayinka’s pace and trickery is something Dortmund defenders really need to be careful of.
Tomas Soucek is a guaranteed starter in the holding midfield role. His calming influence in the middle of the park could be critical as Slavia look to cause an upset here. He will also look to provide the additional defensive coverage for the backline.
Speaking of defence, it will likely remain unchanged from the side that won against Slovan Liberec on the weekend, except Michal Frydrych may come in for Laco Takacs.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Kolar; Coufal, Kudela, Frydrych, Boril; Soucek; Sevcik, Stanciu, Husbauer; Masopust, Olayinka
- Borussia Dortmund have won seven of their 11 matches against teams from the Czech Republic, including winning their first-ever match with Slavia Praha in this season’s Champions League.
- Slavia Praha are yet to win an away game in the Champions League, drawing each of their last three outings in the competition.
- Borussia Dortmund have only lost two of their last 15 Champions League group stage games at Signal Iduna Park, losing against Spurs in November 2017 and Real Madrid in September 2017.
- Since Peter Olayinka’s goal against Inter Milan, Slavia Praha haven’t attempted a shot on target in an away UEFA Champions League game, a run of 117 minutes without one.
- Dortmund are looking to reach the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing so in three consecutively between 2012-13 and 2014-15.
Player to Watch
Sancho is once again on fire, having scored in all of his last four matches, including in the 3-1 defeat to FC Barcelona. And there have been new rumours surfacing which claims that the English international is keen on departing BVB in the upcoming January transfer window, with Liverpool reportedly favourites to sign him.
In that case, Sancho would be desperate to maintain his solid run of form so he can impress the top dogs, having already made an impression versus Barcelona. Against Slavia, his pace and trickery on the flanks could make it difficult for them to attempt a high line of press, knowing he can always get in behind and cause problems.
Either way, it would be interesting to see how Sancho combines with Reus and Alcacer as Dortmund look to extend their winning run to three games in all competitions.
Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Slavia Praha
It won’t be surprising to see Dortmund coming off strong at the Signal Iduna Park considering their excellent run of form. They have the home advantage and with a qualification to the knockout round at stake, they would be keen on sealing all three points this midweek. Hence, we expect them to register a comfortable 3-0 victory.