Borussia Dortmund will be hoping to continue their push for the Bundesliga title when they lock horns with Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Apart from being knocked out in the DFB Pokal, it has been a positive start to the Ruckrunde for Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, they are coming on the back of a solid 4-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, which was followed by an important 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek’s UEFA Champions League fixture.
However, the team to knock them out of the DFB Pokal earlier this year was their weekend opponents, Werder Bremen. That means on Saturday, the Black and Yellows will have an opportunity to gain revenge, though things could again be tricky given their unpredictable form, at times.
Bremen, meanwhile, are on a steady decline. A 3-2 triumph over Borussia Dortmund was their last victory and they have since lost to Union Berlin and RB Leipzig. As a result, Die Grunweissen are now dawdling at 17th position in the league, just one point above bottom club SC Paderborn.
That means Bremen are running the risk of being overtaken by the newly-promoted side by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures. Dortmund, on the other hand, could potentially overtake second-placed RB Leipzig, if they lose to FC Schalke in the Topspiel.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this highly anticipated match-up in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Werder Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt is more than likely to retain the same 3-4-3 formation he started against Dortmund last time out. However, Kevin Vogt is out injured and will likely be replaced by former Dortmund defender Omer Toprak.
The Turkish international will partner Niklas Moisander and Milos Veljkovic in the three-man backline. They will receive additional support from the two wing-backs in Theodor Gebre-Selassie and Ludwig Augustinsson, both of whom are expected to operate deeper than usual.
In midfield, Bremen will face another blow as Maxmilian Eggestein is out suspended. This will pave the way for another ex-Dortmund player to receive a berth in the starting lineup in the shape of Nuri Sahin. The experienced figure will partner Davy Klaassen in the double-pivot.
And finally, the Bremen attack will be spearheaded by Davie Selke, partnered by the dynamic duo of Leonardo Bittencourt and Milot Rashica.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Toprak, Moisander; Gebre-Selassie, Klassen, Sahin, Augustinsson; Rashica, Selke, Bittencourt
Lucien Favre has confirmed that both Marco Reus and Thomas Delaney will miss the trip to Bremen. Julian Brandt has trained with the team and might face a late fitness test. But in any case, we do not expect him to start, thus paving the way for Thorgan Hazard in the starting eleven.
Hazard is set to form the three-man Dortmund offensive alongside Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. Mario Gotze is also an option but given the importance of this encounter, Favre is likely to field the strongest possible eleven.
Emre Can, meanwhile, was one of the best performers in the win over PSG in midweek. With Brandt unlikely to start, the German international is set to retain his place in the double-pivot alongside the ever-present figure of Axel Witsel. The Belgian’s composure could be key in the second line of press.
Nico Schulz started as the left wing-back when these two teams last faced each other. Favre will not make the same error this time out, with Raphael Guerreiro likely to operate in that slot while Achraf Hakimi is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.
And finally, in defence, Dan-Axel Zagadou may once again get the nod ahead of Manuel Akanji despite making an error that led to Neymar’s goal in midweek. The Frenchman is set to partner Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek in the three-man backline.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Zagadou; Hakimi, Witsel, Can, Guerreiro; Sancho, Haaland, Hazard
- This will be the 104th meeting between Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. BVB have faced SVW more often than they have any other side in the top flight.
- Werder faced Dortmund at home in the DFB Pokal just 18 days before this Bundesliga clash. The 3-2 win was Bremen’s only victory in their last six competitive meetings with BVB, although Dortmund have only won one of those games.
- Both sides have scored in each of the last 14 competitive meetings. These 14 games have seen an average of 4.3 goals per game scored.
- Bremen have lost eight of their last nine Bundesliga games, scoring just three goals and taking just three points in that time. 17 points from 22 games represent Werder’s worst-ever start to a campaign in their 56-year Bundesliga history.
- Werder Bremen have lost their last four Bundesliga home games without scoring a single goal – something that had never previously happened to them. Another home loss, a sixth in a row, would be a new negative BL club record.
Player to Watch
Can made quite an impression with his fearless display in the win over PSG. His quality and experience were evident as the Black and Yellows manage to nullify the centric build-up from Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Indeed, the German international offered some vital physical presence in the middle of the park, which would once again be crucial in this fiery encounter against Bremen. The hosts are likely to press high, which means Can’s ability to rotate possession quickly will also be tested.
But make no mistake – Can will be keen on capitalising from his midweek performance as he seeks to make a name for himself early on in his Dortmund career.
Werder Bremen 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are undoubtedly one of the most in-form teams in Europe right now. They have transformed into a goalscoring machine thanks to Haaland and hence, we expect them to continue their scoring spree this weekend. However, their unpredictable and vulnerable defence could once again be exploited by the Bremen attackers.