Bayern Munich will be keeping a close eye as Borussia Dortmund lock horns with RB Leipzig at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.
With the festive period already upon us, it is time for Bundesliga to follow the Englischewoche schedule as the German clubs play each other out this midweek. Borussia Dortmund’s game against RB Leipzig remains one of the most exciting contests in this week’s round of fixtures, with both sides still in the race for the league title.
Dortmund, in particular, have looked incredibly strong this month, having won all of their last four matches in all competitions. They have netted as many as 13 goals in those matches, four of which came in the comprehensive victory against 1.FSV Mainz 05 on the weekend.
The Black and Yellows are currently third in the league table. And though they don’t have any chance of overtaking Leipzig at the top of the table, a win could reduce the gap to just one point. Speaking of Leipzig, they have been in pretty good form as well, despite stuttering in the UEFA Champions League, at times.
Die Roten Bullen are coming on the back of a 3-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf, which helped them dethrone Gladbach at the top of the table. And they will be aiming to consolidate their position when they visit Dortmund.
Here at the Hard Tackle, meanwhile, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this highly anticipated and important fixture in the Bundesliga this week.
Tactics & Team News
Given the importance of this fixture, Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is unlikely to make any drastic changes to the side that won 4-0 against Mainz.
Marco Reus is once again expected to lead the attack, having enjoyed a productive month so far. Same can be said for Jadon Sancho while Thorgan Hazard could also retain his place in the starting lineup. All three of them were on target against Mainz, and the Dortmund fans will be hoping for more of the same this week.
Julian Brandt has done well filling up for the injured duo of Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel. He is a guaranteed starter in midfield, alongside Julian Weigl. Mahmoud Dahoud, however, is also an option and could be utilised as a substitute later on in the game.
The Dortmund defence could remain unchanged as well, with Dan-Axel Zagadou, Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji forming the three-man backline. However, these three could expect a much busier evening dealing with a Leipzig side that has already netted 42 goals this season.
Elsewhere, Raphael Guerreiro could come in at left wing-back, at the expense of Nico Schulz while Achraf Hakimi is set to continue on the opposite flank, ahead of Lukasz Piszczek.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou; Hakimi, Weigl, Brandt, Guerreiro; Sancho, Reus, Hazard
Julian Nagelsman is set to continue with a 4-4-2 setup, with the two banks of four. There might be a few changes, with Christopher Nkunku, in particular, likely to make way for the experienced Emil Forsberg, whose creativity could be key.
Forsberg will operate in his customary left midfield slot, with Marcel Sabitzer starting on the opposite flank. They will look to put pressure on the Dortmund full-backs who lack defensive organisation and discipline.
In central midfield, Konrad Laimer and Diego Demme are both expected to retain their place in the starting lineup. Their work-rate could be critical against a decimated Dortmund midfield. They will also play a key role in narrowing down spaces in the middle of the park.
In defence, Nordi Mukiele could get the nod ahead of Stefan Ilsanker in central defence. He will start alongside Dayot Upamecano at the heart of Leipzig’s four-man backline. Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg will occupy the full-back slots as usual.
And finally, in attack, Patrick Schick is expected to continue alongside Timo Werner, having scored two goals and provided one assist in his last three Bundesliga matches. It will be interesting to see if he can pressurize the Dortmund backline that has often looked susceptible this season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Mukiele, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Sabitzer, Laimer, Demme, Forsberg; Schick, Werner
- Borussia Dortmund remained unbeaten against RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga last season; scoring more goals in those two matches than in their previous four against RBL combined.
- Leipzig are without a win in their last three Bundesliga matches against Dortmund – they are only on a similar wait for a win against Bayern. RBL have never gone more than three games without a victory against any top-flight side.
- Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre has faced Leipzig’s Nagelsmann just twice in the Bundesliga, drawing both games.
- Dortmund have won each of their previous three Bundesliga matches. They last enjoyed a long errun of wins in a Bundesliga season in November/December 2018 (6).
- Dortmund are the only Bundesliga team still undefeated at home this season. Spanning multiple seasons, BVB have lost just one of their last 24 Bundesliga games at Signal Iduna Park.
Player to Watch
For a complacent Dortmund backline, the pace and youthful exuberance of Zagadou has served as a breath of fresh air in recent weeks. The Frenchman has really been one of the club’s star performers in their ongoing winning streak. His enthusiasm and composure have been impressive, and the fact that he is indeed improving has been rather evident.
On Tuesday, Zagadou’s intimidating physical and aerial presence in the Dortmund backline could make it difficult for the likes of Werner and Schick to make their presence felt in the final third. The youngster is also capable of moving up the pitch, causing more problems for Leipzig’s second line of press.
Fans should also keep an eye on Leipzig ‘keeper Gulacsi as well as new signing Schick, who has been one of the best players in the Bundesliga in recent weeks.
Borussia Dortmund 2-2 RB Leipzig
As discussed earlier, Dortmund have a stellar record at home in the Bundesliga. But at the same time, Leipzig have improved a lot under Nagelsmann. They have a perfect balance between defence and attack, which could help them at least salvage a draw against this in-form BVB side this week.