Borussia Dortmund will play their final away game of the season when they face RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund have never really managed to recover since their demoralising 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich a little more than three weeks ago. It was reflected in their historic home defeat to 1.FSV Mainz in midweek as they slumped to a 2-0 loss.
Regardless of the defeat, however, the Black and Yellows have virtually sealed their qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season, leading fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen by six points and a massive goal difference. On Saturday, though, the second place will be at stake as they face RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena.
Dortmund are currently second in the league table, leading third-placed Leipzig by three points. However, a defeat against Die Roten Bullen would see them move down the ladder, with their opponent having a healthy goal difference.
That being said, Leipzig haven’t really performed to their potential since Bundesliga’s restart and have secured only one win in their last three league matches. Hence, this could turn out to be a well-matched encounter as both the sides look to secure a meaningless but morale-boosting victory in their attempts to finish the season on a positive note.
And here at The Hard Tackle, we will be taking a look at both sides ahead of this match-up in Leipzig this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Timo Werner’s move to Chelsea has been the biggest headline in world football this week. The RB Leipzig star has agreed to join Frank Lampard’s team in the upcoming season in a move that could add a whole new dimension to the Blues’ offensive unit.
Nevertheless, this will be Werner’s final Bundesliga home game for Leipzig and the German international will be keen on marking this occasion with a memorable performance. Patrik Schick is most likely to partner him in the two-man offensive line, replacing Christopher Nkunku.
Julian Nagelsmann, however, is almost guaranteed to revert to a three-man backline in order to mirror Borussia Dortmund’s 3-4-3 shape. It could see Lukas Klostermann, Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Halstenberg forming the backline, with Nordi Mukiele and Angelino operating as wing-backs.
In midfield, general Konrad Laimer has been ruled out due to injury. But fortunately for Leipzig, they have former Dortmund ace Kevin Kampl, who is likely to form the double-pivot alongside captain Marcel Sabitzer.
In the attacking midfield slot, Dani Olmo has been in tremendous form and should get the nod ahead of both Emil Forsberg and Nkunku.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Olmo; Schick, Werner
Lucien Favre will have a few key players out heading into this game. Key right-back Achraf Hakimi has been suspended and is set to be replaced by the young Mateu Morey. The ex-Barcelona youngster is definitely one of the players worth keeping an eye on.
Manuel Akanji, meanwhile, is also likely to miss this fixture after picking up an injury. Emre Can is usually the ideal alternative. But, coach Favre may opt for the inexperienced Leonardo Balerdi as he has no other option in central midfield, with both Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud not fully fit.
The young Argentine should form the three-man backline alongside experienced defensive figureheads like Lukasz Piszczek and Mats Hummels.
Marcel Schmelzer may be an option at left wing-back. But, given the pace of Leipzig, Raphael Guerreiro is more than expected to start, although Nico Schulz is also an option.
In games like these, the performance from the Borussia Dortmund frontline could be essential in defeating Leipzig’s strong and rigid pressing system. That’s where the nimble footwork of players like Julian Brandt and Jadon Sancho could come in handy, with Erling Haaland leading the attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Balerdi; Morey, Can, Witsel, Guerreiro; Sancho, Brandt; Haaland
- Leipzig celebrated their first-ever Bundesliga win against Dortmund in September 2016. They did the double over them that season, but haven’t beaten the Black and Yellows since.
- Nagelsmann has won only one of eight meetings with Dortmund but is unbeaten in his last four (W1, D3).
- Kevin Kampl made 14 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund during the second half of the 2014/15 season, while Marcel Halstenberg played for the club’s reserves.
- Only Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski (31 goals, three assists) has had a direct hand in as many Bundesliga goals this season as Leipzig top scorer Werner (26 goals, eight assists). Dortmund counterpart Sancho is one behind (17 goals, 16 assists).
- Haaland scored 29 goals in 27 competitive appearances for Leipzig’s sister club, Salzburg. The Norwegian has hit 11 in 13 Bundesliga games since switching to Dortmund in January.
Player to Watch
As mentioned earlier, Werner is without a doubt the most important player in this fixture as he braces himself for his last Bundesliga home game at Leipzig.
The German international is in tremendous form this season, having netted 26 goals in 32 matches – a tally only bettered by the mercurial Robert Lewandowski. But, at the same time, Werner has recorded far better overall statistics than his Polish counterpart, especially in the creative aspect of the game.
Tactically, Werner’s pace, versatility and tenacious nature could cause problems for a Dortmund backline that is missing Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou. Moreover, the Black and Yellows are not in the best of forms and a strong performance against Favre’s men could be an ideal way for the striker to introduce himself to Chelsea fans.
RB Leipzig 1-0 Borussia Dortmund
RB Leipzig haven’t beaten Borussia Dortmund in a very long-time. But, with Die Schwarzgelben lacking confidence following their home defeat to Mainz, the hosts could have an excellent opportunity of sealing all three points and climb up to the second position in the league table.