Borussia Dortmund are looking to seal their place at the top of Group F when they take on Lazio at the Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday.
Zenit St. Petersburg’s struggles in the UEFA Champions League this season has led to an evenly contested three-way battle between Borussia Dortmund, Lazio and Club Brugge in Group F.
Dortmund are leading the group with nine points on the board, leading second-placed Lazio by a point. It means a draw this midweek could be enough to secure their qualification to the next round. But ideally, the Black and Yellows are hoping for a win as they look to secure top place in the group in order to avoid facing a strong team in the Round of 16.
Lazio are in a relatively more vulnerable position. A defeat at the Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday could spell trouble for the Italian giants, who face Club Brugge on the final matchday. A win for their Belgian opponents on that day could knock the Biancocelesti out of the Champions League.
Simone Inzaghi’s men did, however, fair strongly against Dortmund in the reverse fixture, sealing an excellent 3-1 victory at Stadio Olimpico on the opening matchday with ex-BVB striker Ciro Immobile notably scoring a goal against his former side.
Things could be much trickier as Dortmund play on their home turf this week, although they are coming on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Koln in the Bundesliga. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides in this crucial match-up in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Lucien Favre is sweating over the fitness of Raphael Guerreiro heading into this match. The Portuguese international missed the game against Koln due to a hamstring problem, but it remains unclear whether or not he will be fit to feature this week.
Guerreiro is joined by Thomas Meunier in the list of potential absentees for Borussia Dortmund after the Belgian picked up a knock against Koln. He will be out for some time and their collective absence could force Favre to provide rare opportunities to young full-back duo of Mateu Morey and Felix Passlack.
— Ruhr Nachrichten BVB (@RNBVB) November 30, 2020
Dan-Axel Zagadou is another player doubtful heading into this game, so we expect Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji to retain their place at the heart of the Dortmund backline as they look to provide cover for goalkeeper Roman Burki.
In midfield, Emre Can might be given a breather as Dortmund keep an eye on the crucial match-up against Eintracht Frankfurt on the weekend. Axel Witsel may also have to settle for a place on the bench, thus paving the way for Jude Bellingham and Thomas Delaney to operate at double-pivot.
In the attack, Favre could ring in a few changes from the side that tasted a defeat against Koln. Giovanni Reyna and Thorgan Hazard are guaranteed starters and they might be partnered by Marco Reus in the creative trifecta, starting just behind Erling Haaland, who will be the central striker.
However, we might also witness the early substitution of Youssoufa Moukoko. The 16-year-old could still become the youngest player in the Champions League and given the impact he made on the weekend, he is likely to appear as a sub in the second half, along with Jadon Sancho.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Morey, Akanji, Hummels, Passlack; Bellingham, Delaney; Reyna, Reus, Hazard; Haaland
Simone Inzaghi has no reason to shift away from the tactic he used against Dortmund in the reverse fixture. That is, to offer minimal space in between the lines and operate in a narrow shape in the 3-5-2 formation.
Lucas Leiva, for one, will no doubt play a vital role in the second line of press. His composed presence combined with an ability to read the game could be influential, though in Sergej Milnkovic-Savic, Lazio have an equally capable enforcer while another ex-Liverpool man, Luis Alberto will be hoping to provide the creative influence in the middle of the park.
They do have alternatives as well in Daniel Cataldi and Marco Parolo, should Inzaghi look for more experience and hard work to keep Dortmund on the hooks in midfield.
Unfortunately for Lazio, however, key defender Luiz Felipe is missing. The Brazilian’s absence should pave the way for Wesley Hoedt to start alongside Patric and Francesco Acerbi in the three-man backline, with Pepe Reina starting between the sticks.
In the final third, meanwhile, the onus will be on Ciro Immobile to spearhead the Lazio attack alongside Joaquin Correa. New signing Vedat Muriqi is likely to miss out against Dortmund, but in Felipe Caicedo, Inzaghi has a more than decent alternative.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Reina; Patric, Hoedt, Acerbi; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas, Alberto, Marusic; Immobile, Correa
- The home side has won all three previous meetings between Borussia Dortmund and Lazio in major European competition, with Dortmund winning their only such match 2-0 in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup quarter-final.
- Lazio have only won one of their seven previous away games against German sides in European competition, a 2-0 win at VfB Stuttgart in the UEFA Europa League in March 2013.
- Borussia Dortmund need to avoid defeat to progress to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages this season; they have only failed to make it out of the group stages in one of their last seven appearances in the competition (2017/18).
- Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in their last eight UEFA Champions League group stage home games, keeping six clean sheets in the process since a 2-1 loss against Tottenham Hotspur in November 2017.
- Borussia Dortmund have won their last five Champions League home games, last having a longer winning run at home in the competition between September 2012 to October 2013 (7).
Player to Watch
— BorussiaPassion (@BorussiaPassion) November 26, 2020
Giovanni Reyna is one of the players guaranteed to start for Borussia Dortmund this midweek. The American international was unlucky to not to start against Koln on the weekend, but when he did feature as a substitute, he immediately made an impact by assisting the goal for Thorgan Hazard – his sixth assist in all competitions this season.
This time around, Reyna could be much more influential as he looks to terrorise the opposing defence alongside the likes of Marco Reus and Hazard. His nimble footwork combined with a brilliant vision and a seemingly telepathic understanding with his teammates could cause problems for the Lazio backline this week.
The Italian giants, therefore, clearly need to devise a plan to stop the 18-year-old, who also tends to switch flanks and keep the defence occupied, thus offering additional spaces for forwards like Erling Haaland and Reus. So, it will be wise to bet on Reyna as the game-changer at the Signal Iduna Park this midweek.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Lazio
Borussia Dortmund have fared extraordinarily well as a defensive unit since their defeat to Lazio. But, the absence of two premier full-backs could once again make them vulnerable, although their attacking quality might be enough to see out the Lazio, who have suffered a loss of form this season. We are expecting a narrow 2-1 win for the hosts.