Borussia Dortmund will look to sustain pressure on Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig at the top when they take on 1.FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 win over RB Leipzig last weekend could be a turning point in the Bundesliga title race. It allowed Bayern Munich to stay at the top despite their defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. But more importantly, it helped Dortmund remain in the race, with the Black and Yellows now trailing the table-toppers only by four points heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.

As things stand, Dortmund have a significant chance of toppling Leipzig, who face a stern test against VfL Wolfsburg. Bayern Munich, on the other hand, have suffered back-to-back defeats, though one of which was a penalty shootout loss to Holstein Kiel, effectively knocking them out of the DFB Pokal. They are low on confidence as they lock horns with high-flying SC Freiburg on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund, in contrast, will be playing much weaker opposition in 1.FSV Mainz 05. The carnival club is currently at the bottom of the Bundesliga table following FC Schalke’s first win of the season against TSG Hoffenheim in the last matchday. They have also suffered 11 defeats in just 15 matches so far – more than any other club in the Bundesliga.

The 05-ers are coming on the back of a disappointing defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, with new coach Bo Svensson hoping for a turnaround this time. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two teams ahead of this crucial encounter in the Bundesliga this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund's Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel reacts after the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and BVB Borussia Dortmund in Munich, southern Germany, on April, 6, 2019. (Photo by Guenter SCHIFFMANN / AFP) / RESTRICTIONS: DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO (Photo credit should read GUENTER SCHIFFMANN/AFP via Getty Images)

Axel Witsel has been ruled out for quite some time. (Photo credit should read Guenter Schiffmann/AFP via Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund interim coach Edin Terzic has no reason to tinker with the side that secured an impressive 3-1 triumph over RB Leipzig. However, the young coach will have one eye on the important encounter against Bayer Leverkusen next midweek, potentially prompting him to rest some of his key players for this clash.

Axel Witsel has already been ruled out after picking up an Achilles injury last weekend. His absence should pave the way for Emre Can to return to the side, with the former Liverpool star set to renew his partnership alongside Thomas Delaney in the double pivot. Mahmoud Dahoud is a potential alternative while Jude Bellingham remains a doubt.

No real changes are expected in defence as Manuel Akanji and Mats Hummels look to continue their impressive run of form. They will be further aided by the two full-backs in Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro, with the latter especially tasked with the responsibility of providing the creativity going forward.

Things could get interesting in the attacking department, however. As mentioned earlier, Dortmund play Leverkusen on Tuesday, which means Terzic could refrain from giving Giovanni Reyna another start. Unfortunately for him, though, Thorgan Hazard remains unavailable; so we could see Julian Brandt being handed a rare start.

The German international could feature on the left-hand side, forming the creative trifecta alongside Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, with Erling Haaland spearheading the Dortmund attack. Terzic could be boosted by the return of Youssoufa Moukoko this weekend, so the 16-year-old could replace Reus around the hour mark while Stefan Tigges remains an alternative for Haaland.

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

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1.FSV Mainz 05

FSV Mainz are currently missing two of their key players in Edimilson and Pierre Kunde Malong, though Bo Svensson has not been dealt with any fresh injuries heading into this game.

The Mainz head coach opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation last weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt and we may see a similar shape this time around as well. We should not expect too many changes either, although Moussa Niakhate had a miserable game against the Eagles, conceding both the penalties.

In midfield, club captain Danny Latza could continue alongside Leandro Barreiro, with Jean-Paul Boetius operating in the slightly advanced number ten role. The Dutchman will be entrusted with the job of providing the creative outlet for Mainz in the final third this weekend, although that should not be an easy task against an in-form Dortmund defence.

In the attacking department, Svensson has some key decisions to make. Youngster Jonathan Burkardt has been in good form in the number nine role. But, the Mainz head coach simply cannot ignore the experience and the pedigree of Jean-Philippe Mateta, so we might see Burkardt getting shifted into a wider role.

Kevin Stoger should accompany these two attackers in the final third as Mainz look to cause an upset and kick-start their recovery under Svensson this weekend.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zentner; Brosinski, St. Juste, Hack, Niakhate; Latza, Barreiro; Stoger, Boetius, Burkardt; Mateta

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Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have won four of their 5 competitive fixtures so far under interim coach Edin Terzic since he took over from Lucien Favre.
  • Dortmund have scored 26 of their 31 league goals so far this season in the second half of games.
  • Mainz’s six points and 11 defeats from the opening 15 matches of the campaign are two negative records for the club in the top flight.
  • The 05ers have won on two of their last three visits to the Signal Iduna Park, having gone winless in each of their first 11 trips to Dortmund beforehand.
  • Erling Haaland is the first player in Bundesliga history to have scored 25 goals from his first 25 games. Dortmund’s No.9 has scored 21 of those 25 goals in the second half of games.

Player to Watch

Marco Reus

DORTMUND, GERMANY - JANUARY 24: Marco Reus of Dortmund celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Koeln at Signal Iduna Park on January 24, 2020 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Reus deliver once again? (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Although there is every chance Marco Reus could be hooked off early in light of Borussia Dortmund’s upcoming game against Bayer Leverkusen, he still remains the main attraction for this fixture. As indeed, the German international enjoyed an excellent game against RB Leipzig that saw him return to his groove, with the attacker notably assisting Jadon Sancho’s opener.

It was a major positive for Borussia Dortmund, who have missed the usual essence of Reus this season. And the Black and Yellows will hope that their club captain can continue his good run of form against Mainz this weekend. History certainly tips in his favour as the BVB superstar has not only netted more goals against Werder Bremen (14) than he has against the 05ers (12) throughout his career.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 1.FSV Mainz 05

Borussia Dortmund have looked very good in recent weeks, especially in the defensive department where the likes of Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji have looked in excellent touch.

Hence, it will be very surprising to see them concede against the bottom club this weekend, while we do also expect the offensive combination of Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro to cause menace for the opposing backline.

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