Borussia Dortmund will look to continue their sizzling run of form in the Bundesliga when they face Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena on Saturday’s Topspiel.

It has been an incredible start to the Ruckrunde for Borussia Dortmund. They have won all three of their matches in the Bundesliga so far, scoring five in each of them. Their latest league win came against Union Berlin when they simply annihilated the newly promoted side 5-0 at the Signal Iduna Park.

However, the Black and Yellows were knocked out of the DFB Pokal in midweek, when they slumped to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Werder Bremen. Although they did well to fight back during the final phase of the game, the loss highlighted the existing problems Dortmund currently have.

And on Saturday, they could face their toughest opponent since the turn of the year as they lock horns with Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday’s Topspiel.

Leverkusen have fared really well under Peter Bosz, who was in charge of BVB for a short period of time back in 2018. The Werkself are currently fifth in the league table, though they are trailing Borussia Monchengladbach by a significant margin of five points.

For Dortmund, this will be a must-win game if they are to catch up with league leaders Bayern Munich. They are currently third in the table, trailing second-placed Leipzig by two and leaders Bayern by three points.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this high stake encounter in the Bundesliga this weekend.

Tactics & Key Stats

Bayer Leverkusen

Charles Aranguiz is back in training and has trained with the team on Thursday. But, he is unlikely to be given a start in central midfield, paving the way for Julian Baumgartlinger to feature in the double pivot alongside new signing Exequiel Palacios, who is finally available after serving a suspension.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 17: Peter Bosz, head coach of Bayer 04 Leverkusen looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Fortuna Duesseldorf at BayArena on February 17, 2019 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Peter Bosz help Leverkusen end their misery against Dortmund? (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Both Wendell and Leon Bailey are also available, having returned from suspension. But, we expect Daley Sinkgraven to get the nod ahead of Wendell at left-back while Lars Bender could continue on the opposite flank.

The central defensive pairing between Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender should remain the same, though they could have a difficult time dealing with the threat of Erling Haaland this weekend.

Going forward, the offensive trio of Moussa Diaby, Kai Havertz and Karim Bellarabi should all retain their place in the starting lineup. Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in the Bundesliga history against Dortmund and coach Bosz will be hoping for a similarly early start this time around.

The Leverkusen attack will be led by Kevin Volland, who is the club’s top scorer with seven goals this term. Lucas Alario is also an option though.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Bender, Tah, Bender, Sinkgraven; Baumgartlinger, Palacios; Bellarabi, Havertz, Diaby; Volland

Borussia Dortmund

Lucien Favre has a few key changes to make after his side was knocked out by Bremen in the cup. Moreover, club captain, Marco Reus has now been ruled out for four weeks after suffering a knock in that game. That should enable Haaland to lead the line for Borussia Dortmund this weekend.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - JANUARY 24: Marco Reus of Dortmund celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Koeln at Signal Iduna Park on January 24, 2020 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marco Reus’ absence could be a huge blow for Dortmund. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Norwegian wunderkind will be partnered by the pacy wide attacking duo of Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard, both of whom have supplied assists this season. But, it will be interesting to see how they play without Reus in the final third.

In midfield, things should remain the same despite the arrival of Emre Can. That means Axel Witsel will feature alongside Julian Brandt in central midfield, though the latter will operate in a free-flowing role within the half-spaces.

Meanwhile, Nico Schulz is destined to get axed from the starting lineup after a horrendous display against Bremen. He is set to be replaced by Raphael Guerreiro at left wing-back, with Achraf Hakimi starting on the opposite flank.

And finally, in defence, Favre may want to recall Lukasz Piszczek, at the expense of Dan-Axel Zagadou. The veteran defender is expected to start alongside Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji in the three-man backline while Roman Burki will replace Marwin Hitz in goal.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji; Hakimi, Witsel, Brandt, Guerreiro; Sancho, Haaland, Hazard

Key Stats

  • Leverkusen have lost seven of their last nine Bundesliga games against Borussia Dortmund, taking just one point from the last six meetings.
  • Leverkusen are on a longer losing run against Dortmund than against any other current Bundesliga side. They are also on a six-game wait for a win against BVB, their longest streak without a victory against any side.
  • Dortmund have only lost one of their last 12 Bundesliga matches in Leverkusen.
  • Leverkusen lost a game after being ahead for the first time this season in the Bundesliga on MD 20 at Hoffenheim. The defeat ended a run of three league wins in a row.
  • Leverkusen had a man sent off for the sixth time in the Bundesliga this season on MD20 – no other side has been shown more than three reds.

Player to Watch

Julian Brandt

MARBELLA, SPAIN - JANUARY 05: Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund looks on during day two of the Borussia Dortmund winter training camp on January 05, 2020 in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Brandt will be key for Dortmund’s chances (Photo by TF-Images/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There has been a lot of fuss regarding the performances of Haaland and rightly so. But, it is Brandt, who has worked behind the scenes and emerged as the most important source of Dortmund’s chance creation. In fact, the new signing was even hailed as “Dortmund’s best player” right now by former Leverkusen teammate Kai Havertz ahead of this game.

Indeed. Brandt’s ability to nestle through spaces and linking up with teammates in the final third helps Dortmund become more effective when it comes to making the transition. Moreover, the German international is also capable of changing the complexion of the game with a moment of brilliance.

Hence, Leverkusen will certainly need to keep an eye on their former whizkid if they are to stop Dortmund’s mighty attack this weekend.

Prediction

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed a solid start to the year and despite their most recent setback, we expect Die Schwarzgelben to recover and continue their push for the title. However, a lot will depend on how they start the game while the performances of Haaland and Brandt will certainly be crucial.

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