Edin Terzic will be under the microscope once again when Borussia Dortmund take on TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund have shown very little signs of improvement following the departure of Lucien Favre. The club has continued on their inconsistent run of form, notably losing to oppositions like SC Freiburg, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen since the turn of the year.
Their poor start to 2021 has not only seen them bow out of the title race but also emerge as a mere outside in the Champions League places. Indeed, the Black and Yellows are currently dawdling in sixth place, trailing fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt by four points, meaning a win could be imperative as they look to make a swift recovery.
Hoffenheim are looking to further spoil their miserable start to the year, but have shown signs of weaknesses themselves. They are performing way below expectations, having secured just 22 points in 20 league matches. The Sinsheim outfit has notably lost their last two Bundesliga matches, conceding a combined total of seven goals in defeats to Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively.
Sebastian Hoeness’ men had also lost narrowly when they last met Borussia Dortmund in the reverse fixture. But with no Sudtribune to intimidate them at the Signal Iduna Park, Die Kraichgauer will fancy their chances of causing a major upset. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of this important match-up in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Thorgan Hazard is slowly recovering from his thigh problem but is likely to miss out against Hoffenheim, alongside long-term absentees Roman Burki, Thomas Meunier, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Axel Witsel. Even Lukasz Piszczek has now picked up a muscular problem, leaving Terzic devoid of depth in resources in the defensive unit.
Mateu Morey is a favourite to reclaim his spot at right-back following the miserable experiment with Emre Can last time out. The Spaniard is likely to operate deeper and assist the two central defenders in Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji in the build-up while Raphael Guerreiro should act as an auxiliary attacker.
There have been instances where the Portuguese international has drifted into central midfield and aiding the likes of Thomas Delaney and Jude Bellingham. It won’t be surprising to witness a similar scenario as Terzic adopts the Pep Guardiola method of using the fullbacks to gain a numerical advantage in the middle of the park.
Nevertheless, the BVB attack should remain the same with Marco Reus, Giovanni Reyna and Jadon Sancho hoping to provide the supply for Erling Haaland upfront. It could be imperative for Terzic that Reyna operates in a more central role, as his ball-carrying ability is better suited in half-spaces rather than out wide.
This game should also see Youssoufa Moukoko getting more game-time following his impressive cameo against SC Freiburg. Steffen Tigges is another alternative Dortmund could consider should they once again fail to break the shackles of the opposing backline.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Morey, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Reyna; Haaland
Much like Dortmund, Hoffenheim are dealing with injury-related absentees of their own with star players like Kevin Akpoguma, Benno Hubner, Ryan Sessegnon and Dennis Geiger, among others ruled out for this fixture.
TSG had brought in Bayern Munich youngster Chris Richards on loan last month to supplement a depleted defensive unit. The young American, who is one of the potential rising stars in the Bundesliga during the second half of the campaign, is likely to continue in central defence alongside Stefan Posch and Kevin Vogt.
It will be interesting to see whether Hoeness implements the long-ball strategy as the Dortmund defence has shown signs of vulnerability, of late. Vogt, in that regard, could emerge as a vital figure in the build-up, along with the holding midfielders in Sebastian Rudy and Diadie Samassekou.
No particular changes are expected elsewhere either with Mijat Gacinovic and Marco John continuing as wing-backs, looking to add creative essence in the final third alongside the main playmaker in Christoph Baumgartner.
The Hoffenheim attack, on the other hand, will be spearheaded by the familiar offensive duo of Andrej Kramaric and Ihlas Bebou, who needs to make full use of his scoring opportunities, having missed a couple of great chances against Bayern earlier this month.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Baumann; Posch, Vogt, Richards; Gacinovic, Rudy, Samassekou, John; Baumgartner; Bebou, Kramaric
- Borussia Dortmund were in the top three for most points at home in each of the last two campaigns. They’re ninth in the current home table on 16 points (W5, D1, L3).
- BVB kept five clean sheets across their first six matches of the season. They’ve recorded one in 14 since.
- Andrej Kramaric has scored seven goals in six Bundesliga appearances against Dortmund, including five across his last two, which both ended in Hoffenheim wins.
- Bayern loanee Chris Richards made his second start and fifth Bundesliga appearance on Matchday 20.
- Hoffenheim have not lost three successive Bundesliga matches since August 2019, though the first two in that run fell at the end of the previous campaign. They have not lost three on the bounce in a single season since April 2015.
Player to Watch
Erling Haaland is the man worth keeping an eye on in this fixture as the Borussia Dortmund star looks to break his slight scoring duck. Indeed, the youngster is yet to find the back of the net in any of his last two matches and has been isolated by the opposing defence. His failure to score in those games saw him play more matches (15) than goals scored (14) for the first time this campaign.
It is truly a remarkable record even for a player of his calibre. But one could sense that defences are starting to find a way to minimise his influence and it could be a challenge for Haaland to break out of his shell. How he adapts his game in response to the opposition marking could go a long way in not only improving himself as a player but also boost Dortmund’s chances of doing well in this match.
Borussia Dortmund 3-2- TSG Hoffenheim
This game promises to be a thriller as both sides have a depleted defence and a world-class attack. Dortmund, in particular, have looked stale and out of ideas in the final third in recent matches but could thrive against the defensive trifecta of Richards, Vogt and Posch. Similarly, we do expect Kramaric and Baumgartner to run rings around the BVB backline, though the hosts are likely to prevail by a small margin.