Borussia Dortmund will start their UEFA Champions League campaign on Tuesday when they lock horns with Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.
The 2020/21 edition of the UEFA Champions League gets underway on Tuesday as we brace ourselves for a long and hectic season ahead. For Borussia Dortmund, they have appeared rather lucky to be drawn alongside the likes of Lazio, Zenit St. Petersburg and Club Brugge.
However, things are destined to get tricky when they travel to Rome to play Lazio this midweek. The Black and Yellows have had a mixed start to the campaign, notably slumping to a disappointing defeat to FC Augsburg while missing out on the DFL Supercup to FC Bayern, earlier in the season.
Dortmund also had to work really hard to secure a narrow win over TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday. So they will be aware of the challenge that awaits them on Tuesday, though Lazio themselves have performed even poorly if anything.
The Serie A giants are dawdling on the bottom half of the league table after winning just one of their first four matches so far this campaign. Their latest defeat came against Sampdoria this past weekend as they slumped to a 3-0 loss, thanks to goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Tommaso Augello and Mikkel Damsgaard.
Therefore, it won’t be surprising to see Lazio taking a more conservative approach when they face Borussia Dortmund. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these sides ahead of this fascinating encounter on Tuesday.
Tactics & Team News
Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi is missing out on some of his key players including Senad Lulic, Stefan Radu and Andreas Pereira while Luiz Felipe and Baston are doubts heading into this game.
Inzaghi is more than likely to persist with his 3-5-2 formation. However, the potential absence of Radu, Felipe and Bastos means he will have to settle for Patric, Francisco Acerbi and Wesley Hoedt, though the young Nicolo Armini is also pushing for a start. Thomas Strakosha, meanwhile, should retain his place in goal.
As far as wingbacks are concerned, Felipe Anderson might be replaced by Adam Marusic on the left-hand side with Marco Parolo retaining his place on the opposite flank.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, meanwhile, is a guaranteed starter in central midfield. The Serbian is set to partner Luis Alberto, with the experienced Lucas Leiva operating in the number six position. The ex-Liverpool star will be in charge of providing the support for Lazio’s depleted defensive unit.
The Lazio attack should be spearheaded by Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa, although Inzaghi also has the option of Vedat Muriqi should he need a more physical presence in the final third.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Strakosha; Patric, Acerbi, Hoedt; Parolo, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto, Marusic; Immobile, Correa.
Borussia Dortmund have made the trip to Rome without a host of their star players including Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz, Marcel Schmelzer and Dan-Axel Zagadou while Manuel Akanji is also missing out after contracting the Coronavirus. Emre Can is also out with suspension.
It leaves Lucien Favre with very few options at the back, although Lukasz Piszczek has made the trip after picking up a nasty knock in the last game. Another positive for the Swiss tactician was that Thomas Delaney fared well at centre-back against Hoffenheim and it won’t be surprising to see the Dane once again featuring in central defence this midweek.
Raphael Guerreiro, meanwhile, did not start against Hoffenheim so he is a favourite to get the nod ahead of Felix Passlack at left wingback with Thomas Meunier starting on the opposite flank.
There could be changes in central midfield as well with Jude Bellingham replacing Mahmoud Dahoud. The Englishman is set to feature alongside Axel Witsel in the double-pivot.
Moving forward, Favre will face a selection dilemma as Marco Reus is pushing for a place on the starting lineup following an excellent performance. The German might even start over Giovanni Reyna in this one, partnering Jadon Sancho in the creative role, just in behind the main striker Erling Haaland.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Delaney; Meunier, Bellingham, Witsel, Guerreiro; Sancho, Reus; Haaland.
- Erling Haaland was the second-highest scorer in the Champions League last season, his total of 10 bettered only by Bayern Munich counterpart Robert Lewandowski (15).
- The teams have met three times previously. Dortmund won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Reus in the most recent of those, a friendly in August 2018. Before then, BVB won 2-1 on aggregate in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
- Lazio haven’t enjoyed playing German opposition recently, losing to Eintracht Frankfurt twice in the 2018/19 Europa League group stage, and going down 3-1 on aggregate to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League play-offs in August 2015.
- Emre Can faced Lazio three times during his 18 months at Juventus, winning two and drawing one. He played alongside Lazio midfielder Lucas Leiva during their time together at Liverpool (2014-2017).
- BVB finished second behind Barcelona in their section last season, collecting 10 points to finish ahead of Inter Milan and Slavia Prague.
Player to Watch
Erling Haaland is undoubtedly one to watch out for after an incredible 2019/20 campaign in the Champions League last season. But for any Borussia Dortmund fans, the focus will be on Ciro Immobile.
The Italian forward had joined Dortmund back in 2014 as the designated replacement for Robert Lewandowski. But, he scored just three goals in 24 Bundesliga appearances for the Black and Yellows.
At the same time, however, Immobile has thrived once again after leaving the Bundesliga and currently has one of the most prolific scoring records in Europe over the past couple of years. And so it will be interesting to see how he fares against his former side on Tuesday.
Lazio 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are the undisputed favourite heading into this game thanks to their relatively better start to the campaign. Although they have key players out injured, the quality and experience they have in their side could be enough to trump a Lazio side, who are quite unfamiliar with Champions League football.