Borussia Dortmund will look to continue their late push for a top-four finish as they take on Werder Bremen at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
Following a frustrating defeat to Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League, Borussia Dortmund will set their sights back on the Bundesliga as they look to finish inside the top four.
They have been boosted by a few positives as well, with both third and fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg facing defeats on Saturday against Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich respectively.
The results now open up for the opportunity for Dortmund to potentially bridge the gap to the Champions League places from seven points to just four, should they manage to secure a win over Werder Bremen on Sunday.
It is, therefore, a must-win encounter for the Black and Yellows, who must secure a top-four finish in the Bundesliga this season in order to stand in a better position of keeping both their stars in Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland at Ruhrpott next season.
Their opponent Bremen, though, will have other ideas, although having lost all of their last four matches, they are running out of them it seems. In fact, Die Grunweissen have already drifted back into the relegation scrap, thanks to excellent performances from Mainz, Hertha and Arminia Bielefeld.
Another defeat against Dortmund may allow Mainz to overtake Werder Bremen in the next matchday while Arminia could potentially get level on points. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look over Bremen’s chances of overcoming their upcoming challenge at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Jadon Sancho will miss the upcoming match against Bremen on Sunday, but will most likely be sitting on the bench against Wolfsburg.
Thomas Delaney is a doubt for Sunday as well.#BVB
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) April 15, 2021
After ninety minutes of tense defending against the mighty Manchester City attack in midweek, Borussia Dortmund’s approach to this could be entirely different as they are likely to dominate possession and be tasked with the job of breaking apart a deep-lying Werder Bremen defence.
The Dortmund attack has looked blunt without Jadon Sancho, but unfortunately, the Englishman is still recovering from an injury and may need another week before he can return. It could thus pave the way for Giovanni Reyna to earn a start on the right flank, alongside Marco Reus, just behind the main striker Erling Haaland.
Edin Terzic does have a bunch of alternatives in attack, including Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and the young Ansgar Knauff, whose pace makes a huge impact in the latter stages of the game.
Thomas Delaney remains a doubt for Dortmund as well, so it appears the midfield trifecta of Emre Can, Jude Bellingham and Mahmoud Dahoud could be set for yet another runout. Can, though, will need to be careful with his defensive actions as he made both the errors that led to Manchester City goals. He was hugely criticised in midweek and another mistake could see the end of his career at Dortmund,
In defence, Terzic has no option but to persist with the centre-back duo of Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji while Thomas Meunier will hope to replace Mateu Morey at right-back. The Belgian hasn’t featured since the first-leg against Man City, where he made a late defensive error to concede the late winner from Phil Foden.
With recent calls to install veteran Lukasz Piszczek back into the starting eleven, it could arguably be Meunier’s most important game for Dortmund, should he get the nod ahead of Morey.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hitz; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Can, Dahoud; Reyna, Haaland, Reus
Werder Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt may not have guided his team into the top half of the league table, but he has played a key role in making his squad much more resilient in the defensive department, especially against top clubs.
This weekend, therefore, Kohfeldt’s men are once again going to adopt an extremely defensive approach, with the back three of Milos Veljkovic, Niklas Moisander and Marco Friedl operating very deep. They will be partnered by Felix Agu and the long-serving Theodor Gebre-Selassie, in the wider defensive roles.
🗣️ #Kohfeldt on the opposition:
"I expect Dortmund to perform to their best. They still want to get points and it's a must-win game for them. Their exit from the Champions League won't be a factor on Sunday."#werder #bvbsvw pic.twitter.com/c1XhOshx3A
— SV Werder Bremen EN (@werderbremen_en) April 16, 2021
These two players will have the license to go forward and when they do, Bremen usually turn to one of their midfielders in Christian Gross for defensive balance as the experienced star often features almost as an auxiliary centre-back.
Bremen, though, also have Maxi Eggestein, who is back from suspension and should feature alongside Gross. His aggression and tenacity could be vital in disrupting Dortmund’s approach play while Kohfeldt also has the option of calling on his trump card midfielder in Felix Mohwald, who often finds himself in goalscoring situations.
Speaking of which, Bremen’s star players in Milot Rashica has found some excellent form in recent weeks and could play a vital role in the club’s counter-attacking approach due to his raw pace. He and Romano Schmid, therefore, are expected to spearhead the attack, alongside Josh Sargent.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Moisander, Friedl; Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Gross, Agu; Schmid, Rashica; Sargent
- Werder Bremen are currently the only Bundesliga team to have lost their last four Bundesliga matches.
- Marco Reus has scored more goals against Bremen than any other opponent: 14 in 18 Bundesliga matches, including six in his last five.
- Jude Bellingham and Ansgar Knauff are the 17th and 18th different Bundesliga scorers for Dortmund this season – a league-high. The all-time Bundesliga record is 20, set by Bremen in 2007/08.
- Josh Sargent has scored four of his team-leading five Bundesliga goals so far this season since the turn of the year.
- Werder Bremen defender Ömer Toprak made 51 competitive appearances for Dortmund between 2017 and 2019.
Player to Watch
Amid all the star players at Borussia Dortmund, it is Erling Haaland, who is perhaps due a big haul after failing to score in his last four competitive matches. He has never failed to score in three successive Bundesliga matches, so this could be the game he is waiting for.
The Norweigan’s return to form could be vital for Dortmund in this final stage of the campaign too, with the Black and Yellows hoping to pull off a late heist on either Eintracht Frankfurt or VfL Wolfsburg in the top-four battle.
Perhaps a positive for Halaand is that despite failing to score, he has contributed to the game, notably registering the assist for Knauff’s winner late in the game against Stuttgart last weekend. A solid performance against Bremen, though, could go a long way in lifting his confidence and potentially helping him find his scoring touch that could spell trouble for other Bundesliga clubs.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Werder Bremen
Borussia Dortmund may have problems once again in piercing the defences of a Bundesliga opponent, with Werder Bremen being particularly known for their low defensive line. However, considering how much resolve and determination Die Schwarzgelben showed in their last two matches, we expect them to get over the line quite comfortably, with Haaland a likely goalscorer.