Last season’s Europa League champions Sevilla take on Borussia Dortmund in what promises to be a scintillating contest in the UEFA Champions League.
In what has largely been a dire start to 2021, Borussia Dortmund fans and players alike were supplied with some positive news in midweek after the club announced the appointment of Marco Rose. The Borussia Monchengladbach head coach is set to take over charge at BVB next season, and while it might not be pleasant news for interim coach Edin Terzic, it will be an opportunity for him to get his team back on track.
Indeed, the local boy has nothing to lose now and after yet another draw with TSG Hoffenheim on the weekend, some success in their upcoming Champions League fixture on Wednesday could do well to lift the spirits in the Dortmund camp.
Last season’s Europa League champions Sevilla, however, are far from an easy opponent, having announced themselves as a sturdy bunch under the leadership of Julen Lopetegui. Unlike the Black and Yellows, the Spanish giants have been doing well in the domestic league as well, and along with FC Barcelona, they are currently the most in-form team in the division.
As a matter of fact, Sevilla are yet to lose or draw a single game in any competition since their 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in early January. Dortmund, in contrast, have won just one of their last six Bundesliga matches, which has not only derailed their title challenge but has also made them mere outsiders in the race for the top four spots.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their first leg match-up at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui had rested a few of his star players in the recent win over SD Huesca, including Jules Kounde. The young French defensive sensation is a guaranteed starter this time out, at the heart of Sevilla’s four-man backline alongside Diego Carlos. The duo, due to their contrasting style of play, provide variety to the table for the home side, which could be key in this game.
Kounde, in particular, has the tendency to move out of his line with the ball at his feet – quite resembling Emre Can of Borussia Dortmund. He could thus create the important numerical superiority for Sevilla during possession phases, with the partnering midfielders in Ivan Rakitic, Joan Jordan and Fernando Reges making it a situational 3-4-3.
The full-backs in Jesus Navas and Sergio Escudero, though, should make their marauding runs forward in any case. Navas is a slight doubt due to injury but he has trained with the team, although Sevilla do have Aleix Vidal as a potential alternative.
In any case, the right-back may have to be a little careful dealing with the threat of Raphael Guerreiro on the far side, as the Dortmund wing-back is an excellent offensive player.
Aside from the potential return of Navas, Kounde, Escudero, Jordan and Fernando, other key changes in the Sevilla side should see Suso replacing Papu Gomez out wide. These are still early days for the new signing from Atalanta, who could be utilised as a second-half sub as the Argentine is undeniably a talented chance-creator and problem solver in the final third.
In the win over Huesca, Lopetegui made an interesting decision of starting with Luuk de Jong in the attack, even though the former Gladbach man is only a regular in the European competitions. It hints at the potential start for the club’s top-scorer Youssef En-Nesyri, whose tally of 17 goals in all competitions should startle the Dortmund backline this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Escudero; Jordan, Fernando, Rakitic; Munir, En-Nesyri, Suso
Edin Terzic has been boosted by the return of Thomas Meunier this week, with the Belgian now available for selection after missing a few games due to injury. His return should put an end to Dortmund’s right-back woes recently, although Emre Can or Mateu Morey are ready to fill in, should the former PSG star fails to start.
🎙 Edin Terzic:
"Zagadou , Meunier and Hazard were on the pitch together for the first time today, Bürki is progressing as well. Only Thomas Meunier will be available for Wednesday." pic.twitter.com/EfdAvDCthw
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) February 15, 2021
The Black and Yellows shouldn’t make any defensive changes otherwise, mainly due to lack of options as the likes of Roman Burki, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer continue to remain on the sidelines. The onus, therefore, will be on Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji to provide that solidity in central defence.
Dortmund, in recent weeks, have allowed the opposition to create too many chances, with neither of the two centre-backs failing to maintain any shape or balance in the defensive unit. They are also quite susceptible against set-pieces, which is something Terzic needs to address given Sevilla’s offensive firepower.
In midfield, Thomas Delaney won’t travel with the team to Sevilla as he is expecting his first child. However, the Dane will be an option for Dortmund later on, and may even start ahead of Emre Can in the double pivot while Jude Bellingham could retain his place in the side, in the absence of Axel Witsel.
The Englishman could be a curious case for Sevilla as his ability to provide forward passes as well as excellent ball progression are things that potentially poses problems for the backline, especially beside an offensive unit that boasts the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.
Reus, for one, was rested in the draw with Hoffenheim in the form of a substitute appearance. He should replace Giovanni Reyna in the starting eleven, with Julian Brandt also likely to earn another opportunity to impress.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hitz; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Brandt; Haaland
- Erling Haaland is the joint-leading scorer in this Champions League but has the best minutes-per-goal ratio of any player on three or more strikes (58 mins.).
- Jadon Sancho has two goals and two assists in this season’s competition. He has contributed to 11 of Dortmund’s 18 competitive goals in 2021.
- This is Borussia Dortmund’s 15th season of Champions League football. They were winners in 1996/97, runners-up in 2012/13, and have reached the knockout rounds in seven of their last eight campaigns.
- Ivan Rakitic won the 2010/11 DFB Cup with Schalke. His record against the Royal Blues’ fierce local rivals reads W4, D1, L1.
- Borussia Dortmund have won none of their last ten away games against Spanish opposition in the Champions League (D3 L7).
Player to Watch
Passes to watch for in the Champions League: https://t.co/cyIWcx8Die
– Right midfield diagonals to Mbappé
– Messi in the left (!) halfspace
– Leipzig’s outside-in buildup from Halstenberg's side
– TAA switches
– Wingback Navas (if fit) vs. Guerreiro and Sancho on the same flank pic.twitter.com/sKMJVAXhCU
— John Muller (@johnspacemuller) February 16, 2021
Raphael Guerreiro has been one of the bright spots in this otherwise dire period of Borussia Dortmund, with the full-back notably starring in the draw with TSG Hoffenheim on the weekend. His contributions on the flanks have been immense, as always and under Edin Terzic, the player has somewhat adopted a more versatile role – often moving into a central position.
Guerreiro’s influence could once again be crucial in this game against Sevilla. His ability to motor forward, combined with an unrivalled technical prowess make him a difficult player to defend against, even for the highly experienced Jesus Navas. So, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this exciting one-on-one duel on the left flank this midweek.
Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Sevilla
Although ten games is never a good indicator, Borussia Dortmund have shown very little signs of improvement under Edin Terzic. On the contrary, the Black and Yellows have been creating fewer chances and conceding more goals – making them mere underdogs heading into this game.
It won’t be surprising to see them concede a few more goals this midweek, especially against a strong Sevilla attack. Their only hope in this game is the telepathic understanding between the front three of Erling Haaland, Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, as well as the team’s overall counter-attacking prowess.