Achraf Hakimi prepares for his final game for Borussia Dortmund as the Black and Yellows look to wrap up their 2019/20 campaign with a win over Hoffenheim.
Aside from two Der Klassiker defeats to Bayern Munich and a few minor blips here and there, it has been a positive season for Borussia Dortmund this campaign. Yet, the fact that they have once again missed out on the Bundesliga title could exert more pressure on the board as coach Lucien Favre’s future hangs in the balance.
The Swiss mastermind does reportedly have the backing of the club’s hierarchy. And on Saturday, he will be looking to wrap up the 2019/20 campaign with a win as Dortmund host TSG Hoffenheim in an empty Signal Iduna Park.
It’s a rather dull game for the Black and Yellows, who have sealed their second place, having a massive six-point advantage over RB Leipzig heading into the final matchday. But, having secured a 2-0 win against Leipzig in the last game, maintaining a winning momentum could be critical as Favre looks to increase his chances of staying at the helm beyond summer.
As for Hoffenheim, they too have a healthy five-point advantage over eighth-placed SC Freiburg, meaning they will be essentially fighting with VfL Wolfsburg for a sixth-placed finish in this final matchday.
Hoffenheim are only trailing Wolfsburg due to an inferior goal difference. However, the Wolves are facing Bayern in their final game, providing the Sinsheim outfit with a great chance of finishing sixth even if they just salvage a point against Dortmund.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this fixture as the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign comes to an end this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
With Borussia Dortmund having nothing to win or lose, coach Favre could rare opportunities for a few talented youngsters this weekend. Giovanni Reyna, in particular, bagged an assist in the last game and could retain his place in the side, with Jadon Sancho starting on the bench.
In defence, Emre Can is set to serve a suspension after picking up too many yellows cards. Fortunately for Favre, though, he will probably have Dan-Axel Zagadou available for this fixture, with the Frenchman set to slot alongside Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek in the three-man backline.
Can’s absence means Julian Brandt should retain his place in central midfield alongside Axel Witsel. As a result, we could once again see Thorgan Hazard starting in the attacking midfield role, just in behind the main striker Erling Haaland. However, there is a possibility that the Belgian could be replaced by Sancho.
Marco Reus, meanwhile, is still yet to return to full fitness. Mario Gotze is also unlikely to feature, and the German international has already played his final game for the club, with Hans-Joachim Watzke confirming that he will be present in the stadium. He will be leaving Signal Iduna Park when his contract expires this summer.
One player who will surely feature is Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan returns from suspension and is set to replace Mateu Morey in the right wing-back position.
This could very well be his last game Dortmund as his two-year loan contract comes to an end. Hakimi’s future, however, remains uncertain, with the player having a host of options to choose from this summer.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Zagadou; Hakimi, Witsel, Brandt, Guerreiro; Reyna, Haaland, Hazard
Hoffenheim’s caretaker coach Matthias Kaltenbach has embraced a three at the back setup, which should tune in well against Borussia Dortmund’s 3-4-3 formation. The 35-year-old will also have the privilege of choosing from a fully fit defensive unit, although we do expect Florian Grillitsch to shift at centre-back, at the expense of Ermin Bicakcic.
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@achtzehn99_en) June 26, 2020
The ex-Werder Bremen starlet is set to partner Benjamin Hubner and Stefan Posch, forming the three-man backline, with Pavel Kaderabek and Robert Skov operating as wing-backs. They could, however, be forced to operate in a much more defensive role due to Dortmund’s offensive firepower.
In midfield, Sebastian Rudy could assume Grillitsch’s place in the holding midfield role, after being surprisingly left out on the bench against Union Berlin. He should be provided additional support by Dennis Geiger, although Diadie Samassekou is also an option.
And finally, the Hoffenheim attack should be led by Munas Dabbur and Ihlas Bebou with star player and top goalscorer Andrej Kramaric operating just in behind, in the number ten slot. Meanwhile, the likes of Christopher Baumgartner, Steven Zuber and ex-BVB star Jacob Bruun Larsen should provide Kaltenbach with additional options in the final third.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Baumann; Posch, Grillitsch, Hubner; Kaderabek, Rudy, Geiger, Skov; Kramaric; Bebou, Dabbur
- Dortmund have scored a club-record 84 goals this Bundesliga season.
- Only Bayern (46) have claimed more points in 16 Rückrunde matches than BVB (39), who had nine fewer on the board after 17 Hinrunde games.
- With 13 goals in 14 league appearances, Haaland is averaging a goal every 75 minutes.
- Dabbur and Haaland are former Salzburg teammates, having played together twice for the Austrians in 2018/19.
- Kramaric scored his eighth Bundesliga goal of the season last time out. He is Hoffenheim’s top scorer, despite missing 14 matches through injury.
- It’s the third time Dortmund and Hoffenheim have met on the final day of a Bundesliga season. Hoffenheim ran out 3-1 winners in 2017/18 to secure automatic Champions League qualification at BVB’s expense, and in 2012/13 to climb out of the automatic relegation zone and into the play-off spot.
Player to Watch
There is no doubt about the fact that this game will revolve around Hakimi. As mentioned earlier, this could well be the defender’s final game for Borussia Dortmund, having joined the club two years ago, in a long-term loan deal from Real Madrid.
Although the right-back is set to return to Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the campaign, Dortmund will, no doubt, try their best to retain his services on a permanent basis. But, at the same time, Hakimi is now being tipped to move to Inter Milan, who have emerged as shocking candidates to sign the Moroccan international.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Hakimi fares in this fixture. His pace, trickery and combination play with his teammates could certainly cause problems for the Hoffenheim backline this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 TSG Hoffenheim
Borussia Dortmund showed excellent character to come away as 2-0 victory in the last game against RB Leipzig. They are more than likely to replicate that performance this weekend, especially with Haaland, Zagadou back and the likes of Sancho, Reyna and Hazard raring to end the campaign on a positive. We thus expect another comfortable 2-0 win for the Black and Yellows.