Borussia Dortmund will look to kickstart their 2020 Ruckrunde campaign on a positive note when they lock horns with FC Augsburg on Saturday.
Following a winter hiatus, the second half of the Bundesliga campaign, also known as Ruckrunde, is set to get underway this week. One of the title favourites, Borussia Dortmund, will kickstart their 2020 league campaign on Saturday when they travel to WWK Arena to face FC Augsburg.
The Black and Yellows have had a disappointing Hinrunde campaign, collecting only 30 points from 17 matches. As a result, they are trailing league leaders RB Leipzig by seven points. Even Bayern Munich, who are currently third, is leading the Ruhrpott giants by three points.
Hence, Dortmund must start their Ruckrunde campaign on a bright note and securing all three points against Augsburg could be a step in the right direction.
Speaking of Augsburg, they have enjoyed a solid run of form during the final phase of their Hinrunde campaign. Prior to the 3-1 defeat to Leipzig in their last league game, FCA had won three back to back matches against Fortuna Dusseldorf, TSG Hoffenheim and 1.FSV Mainz 05.
Hence, the hosts will be confident of their chances of sealing at least a point against Dortmund this weekend. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this important contest in the Bundesliga.
Tactics & Team News
Unfortunately for coach Martin Schmidt, Augsburg will miss out on the services of their key forwards Alfred Finnbogason and Sergio Cordova. That means the ex-Mainz coach won’t be able to field a proper 4-4-2, though Florian Niederlechner is there to lead the attack.
Fredrik Jensen is most likely to partner the ex-Freiburg attacker. These two players will look to put pressure on the fragile Dortmund defenders and force them to make a defensive error.
Augsburg’s midfield could consist of two reliable holding midfielders in Rani Khedira and Daniel Baier. However, their lack of pace could prove to be a problem against a rather dynamic Dortmund midfield.
Elsewhere, this season’s rising star Ruben Vargas is a guaranteed starter at left-wing. His tenacity and pace could be pivotal for the home side as they look to play on the counter. Same can be said for Marco Richter on the opposite flank.
And finally, in defence, Iago is unavailable, which should pave the way for Philipp Max to return at left-back. Stephan Lichsteiner, meanwhile, is set to retain his place at right-back. But, Tin Jedvaj could replace Felix Uduokhai in central defence, partnering Jeffrey Gouweleeuw.
Probable Lineups (4-4-2): Koubek; Lichtsteiner, Gouweleeuw, Jedvaj, Max; Richter, Khedira, Baier, Vargas; Nielderlechner, Jensen
Lucien Favre will miss out on the services of Marcel Schmelzer, Thomas Delaney and Tobias Raschl heading into this game. It will be interesting to see how the Swiss mastermind plans to replace Delaney, especially following the January departure of Julian Weigl.
We expect Julian Brandt to retain his role in central midfield, alongside Axel Witsel. This could pave the way for Thorgan Hazard into the startling lineup. He could feature alongside Jadon Sancho in the attacking role just behind the central striker Marco Reus, who is tipped to get the nod ahead of Paco Alcacer and new signing Erling Haaland.
Favre is likely to stick to his 3-4-3, meaning there would be two wing-backs. Achraf Hakimi is a guaranteed starter on the right-hand channel while Raphael Guerriero could be deployed on the opposite flank, especially with Schmelzer injured and Hazard playing in attack.
In defence, Favre could continue with the defensive trifecta of Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou. Dortmund performed quite badly in the mid-season friendlies, and the onus will be on these three to improve the defence against an Augsburg side, who pose quite a threat on the counter.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou; Hakimi, Witsel, Brandt, Guerreiro; Sancho, Hazard; Reus
- Dortmund have lost just one of their eight Bundesliga away games against Augsburg.
- Dortmund average more points per game (2.1) and have a higher win percentage (63%) against Augsburg than any other current Bundesliga side.
- Augsburg have scored in each of their last 12 Bundesliga matches against BVB – their longest such run against any side in FCA’s top-flight history.
- Augsburg have won three Bundesliga home games in a row for the first time since autumn 201. Five wins in a row on their own patch back then saw FCA equal a club record in the top-flight.
- Augsburg have dropped 15 points from winning positions already this season – only Bremen have thrown away more (16).
Player to Watch
It is almost needless to point out that much of the hype surrounding this game will be on the prospect of seeing Haaland wearing a BVB shirt for the first time, in a competitive outing.
As mentioned earlier, he is unlikely to start the game. But, the Norwegian is definitely an option for Favre on the bench – something the Swiss could utilise in the second-half. His physical and aerial prowess are sure to add a new dimension to the Dortmund attack.
More importantly, it will be interesting to see how Haaland manages to combine with the likes of Reus and Sancho. But make no mistake – the presence of Haaland will add an X-factor to this game as the young forward seek to kickstart a new chapter in his career.
FC Augsburg 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Given Dortmund’s poor form in the friendlies, coupled with their fraudulent defence, this could once again turn out to be a tense outing for the visitors. But, they are still favourites to snatch all three points thanks to their offensive firepower and Augsburg’s blunt attack.