Edin Terzic will be in charge of Borussia Dortmund for the last time when they take on Bayer Leverkusen, in the final Bundesliga matchday on Saturday.
From dawdling in seventh place and elimination from the Champions League quarter-finals to securing a top four finish and winning the DFB Pokal, Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround over the past one and a half month.
Currently sitting third in the Bundesliga table, the Black and Yellows are the most in-form team in the division with five back-to-back wins and seven in all competitions, if we include the victories in the DFB Pokal semi-final and final.
Interim head coach Edin Terzic has been the main protagonist behind this Dortmund renaissance, leaving the fans with mixed feels, as this will be his final game in charge of his beloved Schwarzgelben before Marco Rose takes charge ahead of next season.
Although Terzic has insisted on remaining a part of Rose’s coaching staff next season, his future at Ruhrpott does remain uncertain. Dortmund’s opponent this weekend, Bayer Leverkusen has also been a victim of Bundesliga’s coaching carousel in 2021.
Die Werkself initially sacked Peter Bosz in March, hiring Hannes Wolf on an interim basis. Unlike Dortmund, though, they have not been so lucky and have recently announced their successor for next season in Young Boys head coach Gerard Seoane.
Wolf, though, is going to continue as the Leverkusen coach in this final matchday, and after helping his team secure Europa League football with a draw with Union Berlin, he will look to end the season on a positive note, before returning to his previous job of managing the German Under-18 side.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their final day encounter at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
There are a few players who might be playing their final game for Borussia Dortmund this weekend. Among the guaranteed ones, the legendary Lukasz Piszczek is a guaranteed starter as he looks to finally return to his native Poland after spending 11 years at the club.
It will be the final game for the long-serving Marcel Schmelzer as well, but the defender is unfortunately injured. Raphael Guerreiro should, therefore, continue at left-back, while Manuel Akanji and Mats Hummels also remain likely starters at the the heart of the Dortmund, protecting Roman Burki in goal. It could also be the final game for the Swiss goalkeeper, who has been linked with an exit this summer.
Mahmoud Dahoud would have been disappointed to have missed out from the German national squad for the Euros. The former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder, though, will be hoping to finish the campaign well, in the hopes of earning a place in the Olympic squad in the summer. Tactically, Dahoud should operate in the double pivot alongside Jude Bellingham, with Thomas Delaney almost guaranteed to feature on as a substitute.
Moving forward, Giovanni Reyna was recently called up for the USMNT, but Edin Terzic might want to give Julian Brandt a rare opportunity this weekend. The German international will be determined to perform against his former club, as he partners Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho in supplying Erling Haaland, at the tip of the Dortmund forward line.
Terzic has a bunch of viable alternatives, though, including Thorgan Hazard, Ansgar Knauff and the on-loan Reinier Jesus. At least two of these players could feature as substitutes in this final match of the 2020/21 Bundesliga edition.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Dahoud; Brandt, Reus, Reyna; Haaland
Hannes Wolf is facing a major injury crisis at Bayer Leverkusen, with key players like Leon Bailey, Lucas Alario, Lars Bender, Daley Sinkgraven, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Exequiel Palacios all ruled out to injury. Additionally, Edmond Tapsoba and Nadiem Amiri have been suspended due to five yellow cards.
It should have a significant impact on Wolf’s team selection, with the young German likely to shift to a four-man backline. It will be the final game for the Bender twins as well; so with Tapsoba suspended, we can expect Sven Bender to start against his former club, alongside Aleksandar Dragovic at the heart of the Leverkusen defence.
Jonathan Tah should occupy the right-back slot as he has done in recent weeks, in the absence of Santiago Arias and Fosu-Mensah. Wendell, too, is a guaranteed starter at left-back, due to the injury of Sinkgraven – completing the four-man backline that will look to protect Lukas Hradecky in goal.
In midfield, Wolf could opt for a rather simple approach by deploying Charles Aranguiz in the number six role, with the creative midfield duo of Florian Wirtz and Kerem Demirbay featuring just ahead of them. They are a vital cog in Leverkusen’s second line of press that might look to pressurise the Dortmund ball-carriers high up the park.
Finally, in the attacking department, Demarai Gray might just get the nod in the wide role, accompanying Moussa Diaby, as the duo look to exploit the Dortmund full-backs, providing supply for the central striker Patrik Schick.
The former AS Roma frontman, though, is not exactly fully fit, so even though he does start, there could be a place in the side for the young alternative in Emrehan Gedikli. The 18-year-old is poised to make his Bundesliga debut this weekend, following his stellar success in the Leverkusen Under-17 side.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hradecky; Tah, Dragovic, Bender, Wendell; Wirtz, Aranguiz, Demirbay; Diaby, Schick, Gray
- Erling Haaland is averaging a goal every 93 minutes in this season’s Bundesliga but is yet to fire in two attempts against Leverkusen.
- Jadon Sancho scored the first of his 38 Bundesliga goals to date in a 4-0 win over Leverkusen, back in April 2018. He’s produced eight of his 51 Bundesliga assists across six meetings with Die Werkself.
- Edin Terzic’s BVB can make it seven Bundesliga wins in a row. Jürgen Klopp was the last coach to mastermind six or more successive single-season Bundesliga victories, during the club’s 2011/12 title-winning campaign.
- Nine goals and eight assists represent career-best numbers for Leverkusen frontman Leon Bailey.
- Sven Bender played for Dortmund between 2009 and 2017, twice winning each of the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and German Supercup.
Player to Watch
Among all the players expected to play their final games for their respective clubs, Lukasz Piszczek certainly stands out the most. The experienced right-back is tipped to receive an emotional farewell as he bids goodbye to the Dortmund team after 11 years at the club, and with 381 appearances in all competitions.
During his time at Ruhrpott, Piszczek has won two Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal and three Super Cups. He played a key role in every single one of them as well, even in reaching the club’s goals in the current campaign. It is also fair to point out that Dortmund have won all of the ten Bundesliga matches the veteran has played this season.
The 35-year-old will be hoping to maintain that record, and end his BVB career on a high, before he returns to his hometown club in the summer. Piszczek will certainly go down as one of the best for the Black and Yellows and indeed, in Bundesliga history .
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund are currently in an unstoppable run of form, with morale shattering through the roof following their cup triumph as well as securing the top four finish. Leverkusen, in contrast, are dealing with a massive injury crisis while they have not improved much under Hannes Wolf.
As such, we expect Die Schwarzgelben to dominate this game, and finish the campaign as the third-best team in the Bundesliga – an unthinkable idea one and a half months ago. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen for Dortmund.