Borussia Dortmund will be hoping to push further up the Bundesliga table when they play hosts to Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed spring in their steps after announcing the arrival of Marco Rose next season, with interim coach Edin Terzic helping the club oversee back-to-back wins, including the 3-0 derby triumph against FC Schalke last weekend. It was a win that helped them put pressure on Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt.
While Eintracht Frankfurt secured an impressive win over Bayern Munich last time out, Leverkusen do look fragile. Since their win over Dortmund, Die Werkself have only won one league game in five matches. They were also knocked out of the DFB Pokal as well as the UEFA Europa League in the process and currently hold just a one-point advantage over Dortmund heading into this weekend’s round of fixture.
A win for Dortmund, therefore, could help them potentially overtake fifth-placed Leverkusen, while putting pressure on Frankfurt and Wolfsburg, with both the clubs facing tricky tests against Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin respectively.
However, Arminia Bielefeld should be no walk in the park for Dortmund either. Although they are currently dawdling at the bottom end of the league table, Uwe Neuhaus’ men did pick up a point against Bayern Munich earlier this month. In addition, they do have a game in hand as their fixture against Bremen was suspended due to snow.
Arminia have been far from impressive in recent weeks, but they do have what it takes to cause an upset. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this tricky encounter at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
"Axel Witsel is fully on schedule with his rehab, he is making progress and is where he should be in the course of the process. Manuel Akanji will need a few more weeks, and we hope everything goes according to plan." pic.twitter.com/nDgCXDrhVP
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) February 25, 2021
Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzic has found some success after shifting to a 4-3-3 setup, with the two number eights operating in the half-spaces, providing better progression.
Mahmoud Dahoud and Jude Bellingham have usually operated in that role and may continue to do so this weekend, with Thomas Delaney set to get the nod ahead of Emre Can in the holding midfield role, in the long-term absence of Axel Witsel.
It will be interesting to see how Dortmund lineup, though, as Julian Brandt and Giovanni Reyna are always alternatives to Bellingham, should Terzic adopt a more attacking approach.
That said, Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho are almost guaranteed starters in the attacking midfield roles, just behind the in-form Erling Haaland. Youssoufa Moukoko and Steffen Tigges provide further options from the bench while Thorgan Hazard remains a doubt.
Dan-Axel Zagadou is another doubt heading into this game while Manuel Akanji has already been ruled out. It essentially means Terzic is set to continue with the central defensive combination of Emre Can and Mats Hummels. There could be a change in the full-back area, though, with Mateu Morey making way for Thomas Meunier.
Meunier’s return to the starting eleven should provide more balance to the Dortmund backline, knowing the left-back Raphael Guerreiro is almost guaranteed to make darting runs forward – almost acting as the additional attacker against a Bielefeld defence that is likely to operate deep in their lines.
One final defensive change could see Roman Burki making his return in goal, at the expense of Marwin Hitz despite the latter signing a two-year contract extension at the club.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Burki; Meunier, Can, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney, Dahoud; Reus, Sancho; Haaland
There is no second-guessing about Arminia Bielefeld’s gameplan heading into this game. The newly-promoted outfit is set to drop deep, invite pressure from the opposition, with the back-four of Cedric Brunner, Amos Pieper, Joakim Nilsson and Jacob Barrett Laursen hoping to soak up all the pressure exerted by the mighty Borussia.
"Per Bierkrug zum Vereinsnamen"
Wir schauen mal genauer auf unseren kommenden Gegner, den @BVB. Die Gegnerinfos findet ihr hier:
👉 https://t.co/yDbYsdWZie #immerdabei #BVBDSC pic.twitter.com/vBm3DbTkJx
— DSC Arminia Bielefeld (@arminia) February 26, 2021
However, Uwe Neuhaus should be hoping for a brisk start to the game, using the ability of their attacking players to try and fetch an early goal for his team. It should be ideal for a defence-oriented game, which was indeed the case in the draw with Bayern Munich earlier this month.
Arminia have enjoyed extra spring in their steps with the addition of Michel Vlap this January. The on-loan Dutch attacker has offered a lot of dynamism on the flanks and his partnership with Ritsu Doan, Andreas Voglsammer and club captain Fabian Klos should form the core of their attacking unit.
Marcel Hartel is another option should Uwehaus adopt a more calculated approach. The 25-year-old shares a better connection with the two midfielders in Manuel Prietl and Fabian Kunze, who are expected to operate in the double-pivot – looking to disrupt Dortmund’s flow with their pressing and overall positional solidity.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; Brunner, Pieper, Nilsson, Laursen; Kunze, Prietl; Doan, Vlap, Voglsammer; Klos
- Erling Haaland scored his sixth Bundesliga brace of the season last time out – the same number as Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski.
- Jadon Sancho has contributed 10 goals in nine league games since the turn of the year.
- Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga under Edin Terzic (W2, D2).
- Ritsu Doan and Fabian Klos have had a direct hand in 10 of Bielefeld’s 18 Bundesliga goals this season (three goals and two assists each).
- Bielefeld have only won once on the road this season – at Schalke on Matchday 13.
Player to Watch
Mahmoud Dahoud has emerged as quite the revelation for Borussia Dortmund recently. Operating in one of the two advanced midfield roles in a 4-3-3 formation, the German has offered impressive ball-progression as well as assurance in the build-up. In addition, his aggression and tenacity to win back possession have improved Dortmund’s pressing.
It has translated into the BVB side appearing more solid on and off the ball. It doesn’t bode for Arminia Bielefeld, who are likely to struggle in dealing with the numerical superiority for the home side, in the middle of the park.
So it is imperative for them to find a way to minimise the influence of Dahoud. They may also have to force the playmaker Vlap to operate in a more defensive role, which comes at the expense of the dynamism on the counter. A huge dilemma indeed!
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Borussia Dortmund are slowly starting to unleash their full potential under Edin Terzic, though mainly thanks to the offensive players finding good combination in the final third. The midfielders as well as a change of formation have also played their part in making the Black and Yellows much more competent.
So they are the undisputed favourites heading into this game. However, Dortmund’s defensive problems do remain, and with Manuel Akanji still out injured, it won’t be surprising to see them concede at least one goal this weekend. A 3-1 win for the hosts is what The Hard Tackle is predicting.