Borussia Dortmund will kick-start their 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign on Saturday when they play hosts to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Following a comfortable 3-0 victory over Wehen Wiesbaden, Borussia Dortmund will be keen on starting the Marco Rose era in the Bundesliga on a positive note as they take on Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, in what will serve as the first Topspiel of the new season.
After letting Bayern Munich seal the Bundesliga title for a ninth consecutive season, fighting for the Meisterschale will be paramount for the Black and Yellow. They will be boosted by the fact that the club authority is hoping to welcome back 25,000 fans into Signal Iduna Park for the season opener.
The small fraction of support could go a long way in catapulting them to a promising early start to the campaign. But Dortmund need to be careful of an Eintracht Frankfurt team that has a point to prove, after being shockingly eliminated from the DFB Pokal first round, at the hands of Waldhof Mannheim.
Also starting under a new coach, the Eagles haven’t fared particularly well, especially after losing out on star player Andre Silva. They are also set for a major shift in the tactical dynamic of the squad, with new coach Oliver Glasner being a proponent of risk-averse, disciplined football that made him such a success at Wolfsburg last season.
Competing in the UEFA Europa League this campaign, Frankfurt’s main goal will be to continue vying for the top six places. And a positive start against Dortmund could serve as a major confidence-boosted ahead of a long season. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two teams ahead of their blockbuster encounter at the iconic Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Borussia Dortmund are set to miss out on a host of key players heading into this encounter, including Mats Hummels and Raphael Guerreiro. The same can be said for Thomas Meunier, Mateu Morey and Dan-Axel Zagadou, leaving Marco Rose in a state of bother.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach boss got away with a relatively weakened defensive line consisting of Felix Passlack and Nico Schulz in the Cup game against Wiesbaden. But he will be aware of the fact that these players will need to be at their toes against a quality side like Frankfurt.
Manuel Akanji is the only viable first-team option available in the defensive unit. And the Swiss international’s performance will go a long way in dictating Dortmund’s fate in this encounter, as he looks to marshall a vulnerable backline involving Schulz, Passlack, though Rose might get the privilege of recalling Emre Can at centre-back.
In midfield, Axel Witsel is poised for a start in holding midfield, alongside Mahmoud Dahoud and Giovanni Reyna. Witsel’s experience and positioning sense could be critical in aiding a relatively weak defence. As for Dahoud and Reyna, they will have more freedom on the ball, with the latter likely to operate as an out and out attacker.
As for the attack, Borussia Dortmund can count on the services of captain Marco Reus in the number ten position. The German international is set to provide the supply for Erling Haaland, with new signing Donyell Malen providing the extra support out wide.
It is hard to pinpoint an exact formation for Rose’s flexible shape, but a 4-3-1-2 is the closest guess, with Reyna playing in the hybrid role. It could see him join Reus in the attacking phases, creating a situational 4-2-3-1, with Malen drifting out wide on the left hand side.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kobel; Passlack, Can, Akanji, Schulz; Reyna, Witsel, Dahoud; Reus; Haaland, Malen
Unlike their weekend rivals, Eintracht Frankfurt won’t be dealt with a long list of absentees heading into this game. Ragnar Ache and Almamy Toure are the only players expected to miss out on this clash, so it will be interesting to see how Oliver Glasner goes about his business when it comes to team selection.
The former Wolfsburg tactician has mostly embraced a 3-4-3 setup, with the familiar back three of Martin Hinteregger, Tuta and Evan N’Dicka hoping to prevent the mighty Dortmund attack from dominating this game. Hinteregger endured an absolute nightmare against Waldhof Mannheim on the weekend, notably getting sent off.
The Austrian international will need to be much more careful this time around, especially knowing that he will be tasked with marking Haaland. Djibril Sow and Sebastian Rode offer defensive solidity in midfield, but their quality on the ball could make them potential liabilities should Eintracht dominate possession.
Makoto Hasebe is a potential alternative, should the Eagles prefer a more technical approach. Elsewhere, Danny da Costa and Filip Kostic remain likely starters in the wingback positions, with the latter once again hoping to terrorise the opposition defences with his crosses into the box.
While Kostic may not have his usual partner Silva inside the box, Rafael Santos Borre has been an interesting acquisition. The Colombian international should spearhead the Frankfurt attack, with additional creative support from Daichi Kamada and Amin Younes from the middle.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Trapp; Tuta, Hinteregger, N’Dicka; da Costa, Rode, Sow, Kostic; Kamada, Younes; Borre
- Erling Haaland scored 41 goals in 41 games last season, including 27 in the Bundesliga.
- Gio Reyna is in his second full season at BVB. He has made 47 Bundesliga appearances, producing four goals and seven assists.
- Borussia Dortmund have won their last seven Bundesliga matches in a row. Eight would equal the club record, set in under Jürgen Klopp in 2011/12 when BVB last lifted the title.
- After Andre Silva, a further 16 different players scored for Frankfurt last season.
- Rafael Santos Borre scored a league-high eight goals in 13 matches in Argentina’s 2021 Copa de la Liga.
Player to Watch
Amid all the hype surrounding the likes of Erling Haaland, Marco Reus and Donyell Malen, one player who could benefit most from the arrival of Marco Rose is the young Giovanni Reyna.
Hoping to establish himself as a first-team regular after the departure of Jadon Sancho, the American international was not utilised properly by previous coaches like Lucien Favre and Edin Terzic. However, Rose has vowed to deploy him in his favoured central attacking role that allows Reyna to carry the ball around and effectively link up with teammates.
The 18-year-old has already shown a lot of promise in the win over Wehen Wiesbaden. And though Frankfurt are a significantly more difficult opponent, it won’t be surprising to see the Dortmund playmaker running the show by linking up alongside the likes of Reus, Haaland and Malen, making life difficult for the Eagles.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Despite the injury crisis in the defensive department, Borussia Dortmund are somewhat lucky to be facing Eintracht Frankfurt this early in the tournament, at a time when they still trying to settle in under the tactical leadership of new coach Oliver Glasner. The visitors clearly haven’t shown enough promise and might struggle in containing the mighty Dortmund attack.
Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts Die Schwarzgelben to dominate this affair, with Reyna most likely to emerge as a potential star of the match.