Borussia Dortmund will look to mount further pressure of Bayern Munich when they lock horns with 1.FC Koln on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund have been in red hot form since the end of the international break, having scored eight goals in their last two matches. Their most recent triumph came against Club Brugge in a 3-0 UEFA Champions League victory in midweek and coach Lucien Favre will be hoping for a similar result when his side welcomes 1.FC Koln at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

The Black and Yellows simply cannot afford to slip up, with RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen breathing down their neck while Bayern Munich themselves leading them by a point.

But, with the Bavarians losing two points last weekend and facing a tricky test against in-form VfB Stuttgart, Dortmund will be hoping that they can regain their position at the top of the table by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Koln, in contrast, have been one of the worst-performing teams in the Bundesliga this season. They are, in fact, one of just two teams yet to secure a single victory in the league so far, having registered only three points in the opening eight matches. It doesn’t bode well for the Billygoats, who must salvage at least a point in this fixture if they are to boost their confidence as we head towards the end of Hinrunde.

Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this crucial encounter at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.

Tactics & Team News

Borussia Dortmund

Favre made a host of changes in the midweek fixture against Club Brugge, so he is likely to revert those changes in an attempt to keep the squad fresh and occupied.

Although Erling Haaland will still spearhead the attack for the home side, Marco Reus is more than likely to come back into the starting eleven, at the expense of Thorgan Hazard. Jadon Sancho, however, could retain his place in the side following an impressive performance in midweek. He should get the nod ahead of Julian Brandt while Giovanni Reyna should operate at left-wing.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 10: Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund celebrates with teammate Jadon Sancho after scoring his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Signal Iduna Park on November 10, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can these two showcase their magic this weekend? (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Reinier Jesus has been sidelined for Dortmund this weekend after contracting Covid-19. It won’t make a huge difference to Favre’s plans, with the Swiss mastermind once again likely to provide Youssoufa Moukoko with an appearance from the bench.

In midfield, Axel Witsel is set to replace Thomas Delaney while Emre Can could also come in at the expense of Jude Bellingham. The former Liverpool man would start in central defence, but his recent performances, combined with Favre returning to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 shape means he should form the double-pivot alongside Witsel this weekend.

Can’s presence in midfield does guarantee a place for Manuel Akanji at centre-back, alongside with Mats Hummels. The Swiss international will need to be at his toe, however, as Dan-Axel Zagadou close in on his return to the pitch.

Elsewhere, Favre has been recently boosted by the return of injured fullback duo of Mateu Morey and Nico Schulz. However, we can expect both Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro to continue occupying the wide defensive roles while Roman Burki hopes to register a second consecutive clean sheet in all competitions.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Witsel, Can; Sancho, Reus, Reyna; Haaland.

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1.FC Koln

One of Koln’s biggest weaknesses this season has been their tendency to concede early goals. It happened against Bayern Munich earlier this campaign, costing them at least one point as they were pretty solid after the early opener from Thomas Muller.

epa04981049 Hoffenheim's head coach Markus Gisdol prior to the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Wolfsburg, Germany, 17 October 2015. EPA/SUSANN PRAUTSCH (EMBARGO CONDITIONS - ATTENTION: Due to the accreditation guidelines, the DFL only permits the publication and utilisation of up to 15 pictures per match on the internet and in online media during the match.)

Can Gisdol mastermind an upset? (Photo by EPA/SUSANN PRAUTSCH)

So one of Markus Gisdol’s main priorities heading into this game will be to remain solid during the first phase of the game. They could follow the Hertha Berlin method by providing very little space in between the sticks – making it difficult for the Black and Yellows to work the ball way up to the final third.

However, they cannot be complacent in the second-half whatsoever and that is where the work ethic and the stamina of Ellyes Skhiri in the number six role could be important. The Tunisian international will be needing additional support from the advanced midfielders in Salih Ozcan and Ondrej Duda, who has been in excellent since joining Koln in the summer.

From an attacking perspective, Koln’s main weapon will be the two wide attackers in Dimitrios Limnios and Ismael Jakobs, whose ability to cross the ball could be ideal for a tall striker like Sebastian Andersson, even though the new signing from Union Berlin is yet to replicate his productivity from last season.

Unfortunately, Gisdol doesn’t have a quality alternative as Anthony Modeste is out injured while club captain Jonas Hector is also facing a spell on the sidelines.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Horn; Wolf, Bornauw, Czichos, Katterbach; Shkiri; Limnios, Duda, Ozcan, Jakobs; Andersson.

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Key Stats

  • Feast or famine: Borussia Dortmund have not registered a draw in the league in almost a year since sharing the points in a 3-3 tie with RB Leipzig on 17 December 2019. Since then, they have won 19 and lost seven of their ensuing 26 games.
  • Jadon Sancho (two goals, two assists in three matches) and Marco Reus (seven goals, five assists in 13 matches) have particularly enjoyed facing Koln in the past.
  • Kolncoach Markus Gisdol only won the first of his 11 competitive games against Borussia Dortmund (with TSG Hoffenheim in May 2013). Since then he has overseen three draws and seven defeats.
  • Sebastian Andersson is Koln’s top scorer this season with two goals; 18-year-old Jan Thielmann has two assists in a side with just eight goals so far in 2020/21.
  • Koln have conceded a league-high six penalties this season.

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Can PSG stop Erling Haaland? (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Man in form. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Erling Haaland is simply the hottest striker in Europe at the moment, having recently won the Golden Boy award which was followed by six goals in the last two matches. He is coming into this game on the back of a brace over Club Brugge, which took his Champions League tally to 16 goals in just 12 matches, overtaking Real Madrid greats like Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.

The Norwegian somehow has an even better record in the Bundesliga, scoring 23 times in his first 22 matches for BVB. Nobody in the league’s history has ever registered more at the same juncture and after scoring four goals against Hertha Berlin last weekend, Haaland will be looking to further extend his tally on Saturday.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 1.FC Koln

Borussia Dortmund have been thrashing 1.FC Koln over the past couple of years, notably securing a thumping 5-1 win when these two teams last met back in January, with Haaland scoring brace. We are pretty much expecting a same level of dominance and with the BVB attack in full flow this season, it won’t be surprising to see them secure a comfortable 3-0 victory this weekend.

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