Borussia Dortmund will welcome former head coach Thomas Tuchel when they lock horns with Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
This could be a massive week for Borussia Dortmund fans as they welcome Thomas Tuchel for the first time after he left the helm in 2017. Having managed the club for two years, Tuchel divided the fanbase like no other coach in recent years. His tactical genius was admired by a chunk of fans while his questionable attitude was hated by the others.
Nevertheless, the Black and Yellows will be keen on winning an early advantage when they play hosts to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday. They are coming on the back of a morale-boosting 4-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the weekend, though this could be an entirely different ballgame.
PSG, meanwhile, are cruising in their domestic competitions, notably securing a ten-point lead over second-placed Marseille in Ligue 1. They were, however, held by Amiens in the last game that saw both the sides score four goals each. And with Dortmund playing at home, PSG could once again face a stern test this time.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their high stake encounter at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.
Tactics & Team News
Borussia Dortmund will be without captain Marco Reus and creative lynchpin Julian Brandt, as confirmed by Lucien Favre in the pre-match press conference.
Brandt’s absence will pave the way for Emre Can to retain his role in central midfield alongside the ever-present figure of Axel Witsel. These two players will play a key role in dealing with PSG’s technically gifted midfielders in the second line of press.
Reus’ absence, meanwhile, means Thorgan Hazard is a guaranteed starter in the team along with Jadon Sancho, in the wider attacking slots. These two will provide the much-needed service to lone striker Erling Haaland, who scored his eighth Bundesliga goal in the win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Elsewhere, Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro are both guaranteed to be deployed as the wing-backs, with Favre likely to retain his 3-4-3 setup.
Mats Hummels is expected to lead the Dortmund backline, with additional support from Manuel Akanji and Lukasz Piszczek, who is likely to get the nod ahead of the inexperienced Dan-Axel Zagadou. And finally, Roman Burki is set to retain his place in goal over Marwin Hitz.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji; Hakimi, Witsel, Can, Guerreiro; Sancho, Haaland, Hazard
Tuchel could be boosted by the return of Neymar this week. The Brazilian travelled with the team to Dortmund and we expect him to replace Julian Draxler at left-wing, with PSG likely to operate with a 4-4-2. Angel Di Maria might retain his place on the opposite flank, however.
Meanwhile, former Dortmund star Abdou Diallo has not been included in the squad along with Leandro Paredes. But, we could still expect drastic changes in defence, with the likes of Thomas Meunier, Juan Bernat and Marquinhos likely to return to the side.
In midfield, Marco Verratti was among the substitutes against Amiens. But, the Italian is more than expected to operate in the double-pivot this time around, alongside Idrissa Gueye. The ex-Everton star is likely to get the nod ahead of Ander Herrera.
And finally, the PSG attack will be led by the powerful offensive duo of Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. This will be Mbappe’s first-game against Dortmund as a PSG player and it will be interesting to see how Tuchel utilises his quality this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Navas; Meunier, Marquinhos, Silva, Bernat; Di Maria, Gueye, Verratti, Neymar; Icardi, Mbappe
- The only previous encounter between Dortmund and PSG was in the 2010-11 Europa League group stages – both games ended in a draw.
- Dortmund have always scored at least two goals in their six Champions League home games against French clubs. However, among the 16 teams qualified for this season’s knockout stages, no team scored fewer goals in the group stages.
- Dortmund have made it past the Champions League Round of 16 only once in the last five seasons. It was in the 2016-17 campaign under current PSG manager Tuchel – they were eventually knocked out by Monaco in the quarter-finals.
- Dortmund have lost four of their last six Champions League home games in the knockout phases, including the last two, against Monaco and Tottenham Hotspur.
- Dortmund’s last 22 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition.
Player to Watch
There will surely be a lot of hype around the return of Neymar as well as the performance of Mbappe. However, one player worth keeping an eye on in this fixture is Sancho. The English international has been on fire since December and with Brandt and Reus both out injured, he has now become the focal point of the Borussia Dortmund attack.
Sancho has already been directly involved 35 goals in just 30 competitive matches this season. He notably scored a goal in the win over Eintracht, playing a key role in that 4-0 victory. His pace and tenacity could cause problems for Juan Bernat, who is not the sharpest of defenders.
Hence, Sancho could potentially emerge as a game-changer, should Dortmund manage to utilise their tactics this midweek.
Borussia Dortmund 0-2 PSG
Playing at home, Borussia Dortmund certainly have the advantage heading into this fixture. But, with both Reus and Brandt ruled out, they could face a real blow in the creative department. Moreover, PSG’s offensive firepower could be too much for their suspect defence – making the visitors the favourites to seal a win this midweek.