Borussia Dortmund are eyeing an entry into the top four as they welcome RB Leipzig at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund brace themselves for arguably their most important game of the season as they take on RB Leipzig on Saturday. It is a vital game for the Black and Yellows, who are hoping to enter into the top four at the expense of either Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg.

A win could put pressure on both these clubs, with Frankfurt, in particular, leading Dortmund by just a point heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures and have a tough game against the in-form Mainz.

On the flip side, though, a defeat to Leipzig could squash BVB’s hopes of finishing in the top four as it would allow Frankfurt and Wolfsburg to potentially extend their lead to four and five points respectively.

Leipzig, on the other hand, are breathing relatively easier, as they have the second place pretty much secured. A win this weekend could put pressure on Bayern Munich, who must win their game against Borussia Monchengladbach to secure the Bundesliga title.

Largely, for Leipzig, though, it will be a rehearsal of next week’s DFB Pokal finale as the two clubs meet again at the Olympiastadion on Friday. It will be a chance for Julian Nagelsmann to cap off his successful two-year spell in Leipzig with a trophy and make a spectacular appearance at the Bayern Munich helm next season.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both these teams ahead of this crucial Bundesliga match-up at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund were dealt with a massive blow heading into this game as Erling Haaland has missed training and could be unavailable. His absence serves as a cause for concern for Edin Terzic, especially with Youssoufa Moukoko also ruled out until the end of the season.

Marco Reus, therefore, may once again have to continue in the false nine role, with additional support from the creative trifecta of Giovanni Reyna, Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard, with Julian Brandt and the young Ansgar Knauff serving as potential alternatives.

Jude Bellingham is not available due to suspension, so Terzic will be inclined to deploy the in-form Reyna in a central role. It won’t be surprising to see the American operate alongside Mahmoud Dahoud in the second line of press, primarily as ball carriers up against a strong Leipzig press.

Emre Can should get the nod ahead of Thomas Delaney in the holding midfield role, as the former Liverpool man looks to screen the back-four with his robust style of play. He may even drop deep to act as an auxiliary centre-back during defensive phases, with Dahoud occupying his role – making it a 5-2-3 without possession.

Defensively, Raphael Guerreiro could be asked to operate in an inverted role as Leipzig do not usually like to utilise too much width in their game. The Portuguese international, therefore, could offer the numerical superiority in midfield that will be useful in adding more assurance in possession.

Elsewhere, Lukasz Piszczek remains a guaranteed starter at right-back, especially after Mateu Morey’s horrific injury against Holstein Kiel while Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji should continue to marshall the defence, at the heart of the four-man backline.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hitz; Piszczek, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Can, Dahoud; Sancho, Reyna, Hazard; Reus

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RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig have confirmed the injury of Lazar Samardzic today that rules him out for the rest of the season while Christopher Nkunku and Tyler Adams are major doubts heading into this game. Nagelsmann, therefore, will be forced to make some adjustments to his starting eleven, with Emil Forsberg, in particular, likely to return to the fray after scoring a late winning against Bremen in the DFB Pokal semi-final.

He should start alongside Dani Olmo in the Leipzig attack, just behind Alexander Sorloth. These three are set to play a key role in offering the two midfielders in Kevin Kampl and Marcel Sabitzer the passing options in between the lines.

The presence of Sorloth, meanwhile, should also bode well for Leipzig’s main crosser in Angelino on the left flank. As for the opposite end of the pitch, it appears Nordi Mukiele can benefit from the absence of Adams, though Amadou Haidara is also pushing for a start, having performed really well in recent matches.

And finally, in the defensive unit, Nagelsmann is likely to deploy Lukas Klostermann, alongside Dayot Upamecano and Willi Orban, giving a breather to Ibrahima Konate for next week’s final against the same opposition.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Orban; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Olmo, Forsberg; Sorloth

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Key Stats

  • Erling Haaland has hit 25 Bundesliga goals this season at a rate of one every 89 minutes.
  • Giovanni Reyna registered the first assist of his Bundesliga career against Leipzig on Matchday 33 of last season. The US international has scored four and set up five so far in 2020/21.
  • Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer are Leipzig’s joint top scorers in 2020/21 with seven goals apiece.
  • Julian Nagelsmann has only won one of his 10 Bundesliga meetings with Dortmund, whilst in charge of Hoffenheim in May 2018. He has drawn four and lost the other five.
  • RB Leipzig are winless in their last six against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Player to Watch

Marco Reus

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 22: Marco Reus of the Germany National Team attends a press conference on March 22, 2019 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marco Reus will be hoping to continue his good form. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marco Reus is heading into this game with the added pressure of having to deputise for the injured Haaland. The Dortmund attacker, though, has been in a great run of form recently, having a hand in three goals in his last four Bundesliga appearances. He has contributed at least one goal in four of his five meetings with Leipzig as well.

However, in a false nine role, things could be a little difficult, especially without the dynamic physical presence of Haaland. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how the German international steps up to the plate and helps his team seal a victory that could go a long way in boosting their hopes of finishing inside the top four in Bundesliga.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 RB Leipzig

Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed an excellent record against RB Leipzig since Die Roten Bullen‘s promotion in 2016. However, with robust players like Haaland and Bellingham missing, Edin Terzic needs to find a more technical solution to beat this Leipzig side that likes to operate in a narrow, compact shape.

Fortunately, his attackers have showcased excellent form in recent weeks, with Reyna among players desperate to end the campaign on a positive note while Sancho bagged two assists in the win over Holstein Kiel. We are thus expecting a narrow 2-1 win for the Black and Yellows this weekend.

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