Borussia Dortmund will aim to reach the final of the DFB Pokal final for the first time since 2017 when they take on Holstein Kiel in the semi-final this weekend.

Involved in a heated race for the top four places in the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund will be served with a welcome distraction as play hosts to Holstein Kiel in the semi-final of the DFB Pokal on Saturday.

With Bayern Munich out of the competition, the Black and Yellows are being tipped as favourites to win this season’s Pokal, along with RB Leipzig, who face Werder Bremen later tonight in the other semi-final.

Dortmund haven’t had much success in the competition for quite some time now, last reaching the final back in 2017 when they beat Eintracht Frankfurt – the fourth cup win in the club’s history.

Die Schwarzgelben have performed quite well in this edition of the Pokal, notably securing a 1-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in the quarter-final as well as registering wins over MSV Duisburg, Eintracht Braunschweig and SC Paderborn in the previous rounds.

In Holstein Kiel, however, Dortmund face an opponent that knocked FC Bayern in the second round, before beating Darmstadt and RW Essen to reach this stage. Much like BVB, though, Kiel are involved in a tense fight in the league, as they look to finish in the top three of the 2.Bundesliga, ahead of HSV and Fortuna Dusseldorf, so it will be interesting to see how they approach this game.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this enticing match-up in the semi-final of the DFB Pokal this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund will be blessed by the return of Mats Hummels after the experienced defender had to sit out against Wolfsburg due to accumulation of yellow cards while Jude Bellingham’s Ampel-karten (two yellow cards) against Wolfsburg does not apply in the DFB Pokal.

Edin Terzic, however, will have to make do without Mahmoud Dahoud, who was sent off in the quarterfinal against Borussia Monchengladbach. His absence should pave the way for Thomas Delaney to get some much-needed game-time as the Dane is going to play a huge role against Leipzig next weekend, in the absence of Bellingham.

It appears Edin Terzic will likely persist with a double-pivot rather than a three-man midfield setup, as it has benefitted some attackers including Giovanni Reyna. The young attacker has fared quite well in recent matches and should get the nod ahead of Thorgan Hazard on the left flank while Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho remain guaranteed starters as they look to provide the supply for Erling Haaland.

The lack of a ball carrier, however, could be costly for Dortmund, so it won’t be surprising to see Reus dropping in to receive passes. Alternatively, Terzic could deploy Julian  Brandt, although that is unlikely as the former Leverkusen star has endured a difficult season.

Meanwhile, in the defensive department, Hummels should slot right back into central defence, renewing his partnership alongside Manuel Akanji. There could be one change in the right-back unit, though, with Lukasz Piszczek making way for Mateu Morey, as Terzic seeks to provide the experienced Pole with a much-needed breather.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hitz; Morey, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Reyna; Haaland


Holstein Kiel

Holstein Kiel’s Ole Werner is another coaching sensation who predominantly favours a 4-1-4-1 with former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Jonas Meffert operating at the heart of the setup, screening the backline led by club captain Hauke Wahl and Marco Komenda, who is filling in for the injured Stefan Thesker.

Even the full-backs in Jannik Dehm and Johannes van de Berge are going to play a key role in offering the defensive aid, as Holstein Kiel look to adopt a low block that will primarily look to frustrate the Borussia Dortmund attackers.

In order to successfully adopt such a method, however, Kiel must not allow too much space in between the likes and that is where the two partnership midfielders in Alexander Muhling and Jah Sung-Lee are going to play a vital role, denying the opposition ball-carrier of any space or time.

Moving forward, the Kiel attack will be led by former Dortmund youth prodigy Janni Serra, who has netted eight goals in 2.Bundesliga this campaign. He could thrive under the proper support of Fabian Reese and experienced Bundesliga veteran Fin Bartels, from the wider attacking positions.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Dahne; Dehm, Wahl, Komenda, Van den Bergh; Meffert; Reese, Mühling, Lee, Bartels; Serra


Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund are four-time winners of the DFB Cup. They reached four straight finals between 2014 and 2017, but this is the first year since then that they have gone beyond the round of 16.
  • BVB beat Kiel 4-0 away from home in the only previous competitive encounter in the 2011/12 quarter-finals as they won the domestic double under Jurgen Klopp. Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek are the only current Borussia players who featured that day.
  • Former Dortmund youth product Janni Serra is Kiel’s top scorer in all competitions this season with 11 goals, including three in the cup.
  • Holstein boast the meanest defence in Bundesliga 2 this season having only conceded 26 times in 27 games.
  • Holstein Kiel were champions of Germany back in 1911/12, but this is only the second time they’ve made the final four of the cup. The other occasion saw them beaten 6-0 by another Ruhr opponent, Schalke, back in 1940/41.

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Are we set for an Erling Haaland special on Sunday? (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Are we set for an Erling Haaland special on Saturday? (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

After a relatively bad spell of games earlier this month, Erling Haaland seems to have rediscovered his form in front of goal. He has netted four goals in his last three league matches, helping Borussia Dortmund return in contention for a top-four finish in the Bundesliga this season.

The Norwegian, though, has a slightly underwhelming record in the DFB Pokal considering his lofty standards. He has netted only one goal in three matches and will be desperate to find the back of the net against a Kiel side, who are likely to defend in numbers and deny space for the opposition.

A strong performance from Haaland this weekend could also go a long way in lifting the youngster and the team’s confidence ahead of the important Bundesliga showdown with RB Leipzig next weekend.


Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Holstein Kiel

Borussia Dortmund are in full flow at the moment and have been strengthened by the return of Jadon Sancho. It is sure to have an impact over their performance against Holstein Kiel as well, who are more likely to have their eyes on a Bundesliga promotion.

As such, we are expecting the Black and Yellows to dominate this game, securing a relatively huge win to register their place in the final of the 2020/21 DFB Pokal. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Borussia Dortmund.

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