Borussia Dortmund are looking to kickstart their Ruckrunde on a positive note as they lock horns with Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday.
Following the official completion of the first half of the campaign, the Ruckrunde or the second half of the season in the Bundesliga gets underway this week as Borussia Monchengladbach play hosts to Borussia Dortmund on Friday night.
It is going to be an important fixture in the context of not only the title race but also the fight for the UEFA Champions League places. The hosts, Gladbach, in particular, have made an impressive surge since the turn of the year, winning three of their last four matches. Although they are still seventh in the league, the Foals have an excellent chance of getting into the top four, should they secure all three points.
Borussia Dortmund, in contrast, have drifted off a bit in the past few weeks. They dropped points to bottom club Mainz last weekend before being outclassed by Bayer Leverkusen in midweek. As a result, the Black and Yellows are pretty much out of the title race, as they trail league leaders Bayern Munich by a whopping ten points.
It is going to take a lot of effort and a pinch of luck if they are to turn things around during the second half of the season. But, BVB could raise hopes from the fact neither Bayern nor second-placed RB Leipzig have looked particularly convincing in recent weeks. And considering their excellent record against Gladbach, sealing three points could serve as a start of a potential redemption in this year’s Ruckrunde.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two teams ahead of this incredibly important match-up in the Bundesliga this Friday.
Team News & Tactics
This is going to be an important game for Gladbach coach Marco Rose in the context of his future. With Dortmund barely showing any signs of improvement under Edin Terzic, the former RB Salzburg mastermind has reportedly become the frontrunner in the race to take over the coaching role at BVB next season.
Hence, Rose will be keen on pulling off a masterclass this week and break Gladbach’s poor record over Dortmund. Fortunately for him, key players like Breel Embolo and Marcus Thuram are available again, while the German is also expected to recall the likes of Ramy Bensebaini and Lars Stindl into the starting eleven.
Bensebaini should replace Oscar Wendt at left-back, with the rest of the Gladbach backline remaining the same. It will be interesting to see whether they employ a deep defensive block considering how much Dortmund struggled to break the lines of Leverkusen and Mainz this past week.
Either way, we are expecting a strong midfield, with Florian Neuhaus and Christoph Kramer in the double-pivot and Stindl operating as the number ten. These three are set to form Gladbach’s second line press that will look to eliminate any progress from the Dortmund midfielders.
Another interesting option for Rose in midfield is Denis Zakaria, but with Jonas Hofmann back to full fitness, the Swiss international may have to settle for a place on the bench. Speaking of Hofmann, he and Marcus Thuram should operate out wide, looking to provide the supply for the lone striker in Alassane Plea.
Rose has a host of other attacking options on the bench including Patrick Herrmann, Ibrahima Traore, Breel Embolo and Laszlo Benes. Unfortunately, this game could come too soon for new defensive signing and rising American star, Joe Scally.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini; Kramer, Neuhaus; Hofmann, Stindl, Thuram; Plea
Unlike Gladbach, Borussia Dortmund are missing a host of key players heading into this game. Thomas Delaney’s yellow card against Bayer Leverkusen means he is suspended for this fixture while Dan-Axel Zagadou, Thorgan Hazard, Axel Witsel and Marcel Schmelzer are out with long-term injuries.
Fortunately for Terzic, Emre Can is eligible to play after serving his one-match ban in midweek. He should replace Delaney in midfield, thus forming the double-pivot alongside Jude Bellingham. Both these midfielders boast an ability to provide excellent ball-progression and forward passes, so it won’t be surprising to see Dortmund finding answers to Gladbach’s second line of press this Friday.
The defence, however, should remain unchanged for Dortmund, even though they produced one of their worst performances of the season in the defeat to Leverkusen. The likes of Mats Hummels and Raphael Guerreiro, in particular, need to step up, with the latter hoping to become more influential in the final third.
Things could get a lot more interesting in the offensive department. Julian Brandt produced one of his best performances of the season against Leverkusen last time out, but teenage sensation Giovanni Reyna is also pushing for a start.
Although Brandt should naturally start, given his form, we expect Terzic to opt for the American in the wide attacking position. He will look to partner Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland in the Dortmund attack, with Youssoufa Moukoko and Steffen Tigges serving as potential alternatives.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Can, Bellingham; Sancho, Reus, Reyna; Haaland
- Gladbach captain Lars Stindl is the Foals’ most dangerous attacker this season with nine goals and four assists. He has lost 17 of 19 Bundesliga games against Dortmund, though.
- Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus clearly enjoys playing against his former side: he has nine goals and six assists in 13 games against them.
- The Foals have lost all 11 of their last Bundesliga matches against Borussia Dortmund – the longest winless run against any other team in the club’s history.
- Erling Haaland played under Gladbach coach Rose at former club Red Bull Salzburg, but only made five appearances for him. The striker has two goals and an assist in two games against the Foals in the Bundesliga.
- Giovanni Reyna scored his first Bundesliga goal in the reverse fixture this season, set up by Jude Bellingham’s first assist. It was the first goal in league history scored and created by two 17-year-olds.
Player to Watch
Jonas Hofmann has set up six goals and scored four in just nine appearances this season. 🔑
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 16, 2021
In the Battle of the Borussias, the focus always shifts to Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus, who used to ply his trade at Gladbach before moving back to his hometown club in 2012. Since then, he has been quite prolific against the Foals. But this time around, it could be an ex-Dortmund player who could prove to be problematic for the Black and Yellows – Jonas Hofmann.
Part of the BVB side from 2011 to 2016, Hofmann has been in inspiring form in the Bundesliga this season. He has notched up four goals and six assists this term and was the first player to join Gladbach directly from Dortmund when he moved there at the start of 2016. And heading into this game, the German international could be the creator-in-chief for the Foals.
Indeed, Hofmann has improved significantly during his time at Borussia Park. His tenacity, work-ethic and creative output now makes him a threat for the BVB backline, and it will be particularly interesting to see how he fares against Raphael Guerreiro this Friday, especially with one of the most in-form full-backs in the league in Stefan Lainer aiding him on the right flank.
Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Following a run of awful results against Dortmund over the past few years, this could be the game where Gladbach finally end their horrific run of form over their Bundesliga rivals. Strengthened by the return of Thuram and Embolo, the Foals have an almost fully fit squad, in contrast to the depleted Dortmund side that has performed miserably in recent weeks.
It is also fair to point out that Marco Rose is a remarkable tactician, who is well equipped with the firepower needed to get the better of this Dortmund side by a relatively inexperienced and rookie Edin Terzic. Hence, we are expecting the hosts to seal a narrow 2-1 victory in this Borussia Derby on Friday.