Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to continue their winning momentum on Friday night when they host 1.FC Koln in their first home game of this calendar year.
Borussia Dortmund enjoyed an electric start to their Ruckrunde campaign last weekend. The Black and Yellows came back from 3-1 behind to register an incredible 5-3 win over FC Augsburg, thanks to a second-half hat-trick from new signing Erling Haaland.
On Friday night, they will be looking to replicate that performance against 1.FC Koln, in what will be Dortmund’s first home game of this calendar year. The German giants generally perform really well at the Signal Iduna Park, especially under current head coach Lucien Favre.
But, things could be tricky against a Koln side, who have enjoyed immense success following the arrival of Markus Gisdol. They have won all of their last four matches in the Bundesliga, with their last defeat coming against Union Berlin back in early December.
This solid run of form has helped the Billygoats come out of the relegation scrap. They are currently 13th in the league table, and a win could potentially help them overtake 11th placed Eintracht Frankfurt. Dortmund, on the other hand, are in with a chance of overtaking Bayern Munich if they lose their game against FC Schalke on Saturday.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this highly-anticipated home fixture for Dortmund.
Tactics & Team News
Lucien Favre has confirmed in the pre-match press conference that both Dan-Axel Zagadou and Thomas Delaney have been ruled out due to lack of fitness. Marcel Schmelzer has returned to training, but he’s unlikely to be in contention.
Zagadou’s absence could force Favre to revert to a 4-2-3-1 backline, especially with veteran Lukasz Piszczek struggling to cope with the pace of the Bundesliga. And against a young Koln side, the Pole is bound to struggle. Hence, Achraf Hakimi is likely to get the nod ahead of him at right-back while Raphael Guerreiro is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.
Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji, meanwhile, are the only viable options remaining, as far as the centre-back slots are concerned. Leonardo Balerdi is set to play a key role in this second half of the season, but we don’t expect the Argentine to feature in this one.
In midfield, Favre will likely opt for the existing duo of Axel Witsel and Julian Brandt. The pair have performed exceptionally well, and their contribution will be key against Koln on Friday.
And finally, in the attack, Haaland is poised to make his starting debut for the club while he’ll be supported by the attacking trifecta of Thorgan Hazard, Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Witsel, Brandt; Sancho, Reus, Hazard; Haaland
Koln head coach, Gisdol, hinted that his team would employ a deep defensive block in order to cope with the mighty Dortmund attack. He even joked about it, stating, “We still have a really big team bus we’re driving over in. Maybe we just put it in the penalty area – or three buses next to each other!”
That ‘bus’ will likely comprise of Kingsley Ehizibue, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Rafael Czichos and Noah Katterbach. They are expected to operate in a compact area during defensive phases, building a rigid setup that would aim to prevent Dortmund players from having any time or space on the ball.
The holding midfielders in Ellyes Shkiri and captain Jonas Hector, meanwhile, are both likely to operate in a deeper role in order to provide more stability in defence. That could even slot in between the two centre-backs when the opposition controls the possession.
Gisdol is unlikely to ring in any changes to the side that secured a win over VfL Wolfsburg. That means the wide attacking duo of Jan Thielmann and Ismail Jakobs could retain their place in the starting eleven.
These two will look to complement Mark Uth and centre forward Jhon Cordoba, both of whom will be critical as Koln look to employ an intense press against the vulnerable Dortmund centre-backs.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Horn; Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Katterbach; Thielmann, Hector, Shkiri, Jakobs; Uth; Cordoba
- Across all competitions, Koln have not won in Dortmund since a 2-1 victory in April 1991, and are winless in 19 away games since.
- Koln are without a win in their last six Bundesliga games against Dortmund, losing each of the last three. Their most recent win in this fixture came on MD17 of the 2015/16 campaign.
- Dortmund are undefeated in their last 27 Bundesliga home games on a Friday. Meanwhile, Koln have lost their last six Friday BL games – including two at home against BVB.
- Dortmund came back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to win 5-3 in Augsburg last time out. Only Leipzig (12) have picked up more points from losing positions in the Bundesliga this season than BVB (11).
- Dortmund have conceded eight goals in their last three Bundesliga games (the same as Augsburg) – no side has let in more in this timeframe.
Player to Watch
Haaland has become the darling of the Bundesliga following an exquisite debut that saw him score a hat-trick that helped Dortmund make an incredible turnaround. His hunger for goals and clinical finishing has already impressed the supporters and experts alike.
Hence, when Die Schwarzgelben plays hosts to Koln on Friday, the main focus will be on the performance of Haaland, who is sure to receive a warm welcome from the “Yellow Wall”. Captain Reus has already claimed that BVB haven’t had a striker like Haaland since Robert Lewandowski left in 2014.
It is, therefore, fair to assume that this fixture will revolve around this young Norwegian, who has set a high standard right from the beginning.
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 FC Koln
Dortmund defence has appeared quite susceptible this season. And with Zagadou missing, it won’t be surprising to see the home side concede a goal this weekend, particularly from a defensive error. However, their offensive firepower could prove to be too much for a Koln side, who will be relying on their rigid defensive setup.