Borussia Dortmund will seek to revive their title challenge in the Bundesliga when they lock horns with RB Leipzig on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund will brace themselves for one of their most important games of this Bundesliga campaign as they travel to Red Bull Arena to face RB Leipzig in this weekend’s Topspiel.

Both sides are legitimate title challengers heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures, with Leipzig, in particular, trailing league leaders FC Bayern Munich by just two points. The Bavarians also face a tough challenge against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, meaning Julian Nagelsmann could potentially reclaim the first spot if things go in their favour.

Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, have a point to prove following a disappointing start to the campaign that led to the departure of Lucien Favre. The Swiss mastermind’s short-term replacement in Edin Terzic has offered a bit more enthusiasm in Dortmund’s game, with the club notably winning three of their last four competitive matches since the 5-1 humiliation against Stuttgart.

As it stands, the Black and Yellows are trailing Bayern by seven points. But that could drastically change should Hansi Flick’s men fail to register a win over Gladbach on Friday, thus giving Dortmund the opportunity to reduce that gap to four or five points. It could also help them close the gap on Leipzig as well as the other title challenger in Bayer Leverkusen.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial Bundesliga encounter at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

RB Leipzig

Julian Nagelsmann will be missing a number of key players for this game, including new signing Dominik Szoboszlai, who is suffering from an abductor injury. He joins the likes of Justin Kluivert, Christopher Nkunku, Konrad Laimer and Ibrahima Konate in the list of injury-related absentees for the home side.

Can Nagelsmann mastermind an upset over PSG? (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Nagelsmann mastermind an upset over BVB? (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Konate’s absence, in particular, leaves Nagelsmann with no option but to persist with the defensive trifecta of Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Halstenberg. As for the right wing-back slot, the ex-Hoffenheim coach has three options but first-choice Nordi Mukiele is a doubt heading into this fixture while Benjamin Henrichs is injured. We can thus expect Tyler Adams to retain his place in the side.

Angelino, on the other hand, is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank. The on-loan Manchester City full-back has been in sublime form this season and it will be interesting to see whether or not he can outshine his Dortmund counterpart in Raphael Guerreiro this weekend.

No changes are expected in midfield either, with Kevin Kampl featuring alongside Marcel Sabitzer in the double-pivot. They could be aided by Adams occasionally drifting into a more central area.

And in the final third, Amadou Haidara could once again be deployed in a more attacking role. The absence of Szoboszlai, Kluivert and Nkunku also guarantees a place for Dani Olmo in the starting lineup as these two individuals look to spearhead the Leipzig attack alongside Emil Forsberg.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Gulacsi; Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Adams, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Haidara, Forsberg, Olmo

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Borussia Dortmund

Unlike Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund have most of their key players available for this encounter, excluding Thorgan Hazard while Jude Bellingham and Youssoufa Moukoko are doubts heading into the fixture.

Nevertheless, interim coach Edin Terzic is likely to deploy a largely unchanged lineup from the side that secured a victory over Wolfsburg last weekend. The back four, in particular, should remain as it is, with Manuel Akanji being among one of the most in-form defenders in the Bundesliga at the moment.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 10: Manuel Akanji of Dortmund looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Signal Iduna Park on November 10, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Man in form. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There is a bit of competition in midfield, but we might once again see Thomas Delaney getting the nod ahead of Emre Can. The Dane should continue featuring alongside Axel Witsel in the double-pivot, with Can and Mahmoud Dahoud available as potential alternatives.

And finally, in the attacking department, the potential absence of Moukoko and Hazard, combined with Julian Brandt’s lack of form guarantees the same unit that started against Wolfsburg.

As such, Marco Reus is set to operate in the attacking midfield role, with Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna operating on either side. They will look to provide the supply for Erling Haaland, who had a rather disappointing return to the pitch after VfL last time out. Steffen Tigges could be a potential alternative should Terzic prefer more physicality and aerial presence upfront.

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

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Key Stats

  • RB Leipzig have recorded a Bundesliga-best 81 wins from their first 150 matches in Germany’s top flight. Bayern Munich held the previous record (79 victories).
  • Julian Nagelsmann’s team have recorded four Bundesliga clean sheets in a row. Five would equal their club record of October-November 2018, under former coach and sporting director, Ralf Rangnick.
  • Angelino and Yussuf Poulsen are RB Leipzig’s top Bundesliga scorers this season with four goals apiece.
  • Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Leipzig and, along with Bayern Munich, are the only other team to have recorded four Bundesliga wins over the Saxony outfit.
  • RB Leipzig’s Alexander Sorloth, who is a Norway teammate of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, is 13 Bundesliga appearances and counting without a goal.

Player to Watch

Jadon Sancho

Set to make his way back into the starting lineup. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sancho hoping to build some momentum. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Jadon Sancho is definitely the player to keep an eye on in this fixture following a remarkable performance in the last game. He was indeed a menace for the Wolfsburg defence for the entirety of the game, with the attacker also breaking his Bundesliga duck by scoring the second in the 2-0 victory. It was his first goal in the league this season – one that should lift his confidence in what has been a difficult season.

And against Leipzig, Sancho will have the ideal opportunity to build momentum by producing yet another impactful display in the final third. Although Die Roten Bullen have a remarkable defensive record this season, the English international is more than capable of breaking their lines with his pace, energy and an ability to beat defenders.

Julian Nagelsmann, therefore, needs to come up with a definite plan to deal with the threat of Sancho, especially with Erling Haaland also returning to full fitness.

Prediction

RB Leipzig 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

RB Leipzig have historically found it very difficult to get the better of Borussia Dortmund since their promotion to the top-flight. And this weekend, we could be in for yet another, low=scoring, cagey affair as both teams primarily look to avoid a defeat that would enable Bayer Leverkusen to get the upper hand. Hence, a 1-1 draw could be a reasonable prediction.

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