Borussia Dortmund kickstart their DFB Pokal 2021/22 defence as they take on Wehen Wiesbaden at the Brita-Arena on Saturday.

The 2021/22 campaign in Germany will officially get underway when Borussia Dortmund lock horns with Wehen Wiesbaden in the first round of the DFB Pokal on Saturday. This game should serve as a welcome sign for footballing fans across Europe who are bracing themselves for the start of the new season after a brief summer break.

For Dortmund, it will be the first competitive game under the leadership of new coach Marco Rose and a chance to witness some of the new players in the team. With just over a week remaining until the start of Bundesliga, it should also serve as a dress rehearsal, though Die Schwarzgelben certainly cannot afford to be complacent in this knockout tie.

Although Dortmund do not usually fall in the first round of the DFB Cup, they have to be wary of Wehen Wiesbaden, a third division club hoping to cause a major upset this weekend.

Dortmund haven’t performed particularly well in pre-season, although they did secure a 3-0 victory over Bologna in their latest fixture. A slew of injury issues may also hinder their preparations, so Rudiger Rehm’s men certainly have the chance of doing the unthinkable.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this 2021/22 season opened at the Brita Arena this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Wehen Wiesbaden

Wiesbaden coach Rudiger Rehm usually prefers a 3-4-3 formation, but this time around, the emphasis will be on operating deep and offering minimal spaces to the opposition attackers. It could mean a situational 5-2-3 with the wing-backs Jozo Stanic and Nico Rieble operating deeper than usual.

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The main onus will be on the three centre backs in Florian Carstens, Ahmet Gurleyen and club captain Sascha Mockenhaupt to offer the solidity at the heart of the backline and protect Florian Stritzel in goal. It will be interesting to see if any of them can provide a threat from set-pieces as Dortmund do tend to concede from corners.

In midfield, Mehmet Kurt and Emanuel Taffertshofer are favourites to start, but Rehm may also opt for Gino Fechner. Another option is Bjarke Jacobsen, who arrived from AC Horsens on a free transfer this summer.

As for the Wiesbaden attack, they are set to operate on the counter, mostly relying on long balls to catch the opposition on the break. Jonathan Wurtz was their top scorer last season, but Gustav Nilsson may get the nod because of his aerial advantage. He can, therefore, serve as an ideal target man for wide attackers like Thijmen Goppel and Kevin Lankford.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Stritzel; Stanic, Mockenhaupt, Gurleyen, Carstens, Rieble; Kurt, Taffertshofer; Goppel, Nilsson, Lankford

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Borussia Dortmund

Marco Rose has confirmed during his press conference that a few players from the reserve side and the Under-18 may feature in this first-round DFB Cup game on Saturday, largely due to an ongoing injury crisis.

Indeed, the former Gladbach head coach only has one viable centre-back option at his disposal. As such, we are expecting a start for Antonios Papadopoulos, filling in for the injured Mats Hummels and Dan-Axel Zagadou. He is set to be partnered by Manuel Akanji, though Rose also has the option of deploy Lennard Maloney, another young defender who has impressed in pre-season.

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Thomas Meunier, Mateu Morey and Raphael Guerreiro are out due to either Covid-19 or injuries. It should pave the way for both Felix Passlack and Nico Schulz to start as full-backs, whereas new signing Gregor Kobel should make his competitive debut for the club in between the sticks.

In midfield, Julian Brandt is missing, while Thomas Delaney has only recently returned from his extended break. Rose, therefore, may opt for Axel Witsel and Mahmoud Dahoud in the double-pivot, with Jude Bellingham serving as an alternative.

Rose’s coaching staff has confirmed that Dortmund will play more aggressive football under this new regime. So it will be interesting to see how the German tactician brings the best out of Marco Reus, who is set to operate as one of the attacking midfielders, just behind Erling Haaland.

The German international is an excellent presser and should play a vital role alongside Giovanni Reyna in the advanced midfield slots as they look to provide supply for Haaland and Steffen Tigges. Dortmund, though, have the option to start with Donyell Malen, but the Dutchman is only likely to appear as a second-half substitute.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Kobel; Passlack, Papadopoulos, Akanji, Schulz; Witsel, Dahoud; Reyna, Reus; Tigges, Haaland

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Key Stats

  • These two teams have met only once in German football, in a second-round DFB Pokal affair back in November 2000. Dortmund were the 1-0 victors, with former Augsburg manager Heiko Herrlich scoring the winner.
  • Borussia Dortmund have won the DFB Cup five times in their history, but they are to successfully defend the cup.
  • SV Wehen Wiesbaden have never played in the Bundesliga, but they are one of the favourites to gain promotion to the second division next season.
  • Borussia Dortmund have played three friendlies heading into this competition, winning two of them while stumbling to a 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
  • The club’s new head coach Marco Rose will be overseeing his first competitive game in charge at Dortmund. He has worked under previous BVB coaches in Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp during the early years of his career.

Player to Watch

Mahmoud Dahoud

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Borussia Dortmund are heading into the new season with lots of hopes and expectations. They have managed to bring in some new faces and are likely to keep hold of Erling Haaland. But one player who is making a lot of waves in German football right now is Mahmoud Dahoud, fresh from penning a new deal at BVB.

Formerly of Gladbach, Dahoud was one of Dortmund’s rising stars last season. As such, he has become an overnight cult favourite at Dortmund, with many fans expecting him to be given an even bigger role under the leadership of Marco Rose.

The coach himself heaped praise on the midfielder’s leadership and individual qualities heading into this game. So it will be interesting to see how the talented number eight responds to the hype, especially knowing the fact that he will now face stiff competition from the likes of Witsel, Delaney and Bellingham for a place in the first-team this season.

Prediction

Wehen Wiesbaden 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund haven’t looked particularly sharp and are missing their important defensive players. It won’t be surprising to see them being caught out at the back, especially from set-pieces, thus allowing the opposition to perhaps sneak a goal.

However, their attacking firepower is sure to outmuscle Wiesbaden, who are simply not good enough to deal with the onslaught. Dortmund, though, are still banking on the likes of Reus and Haaland to find their form, following a shoddy pre-season campaign.

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