Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to recover from their Supercup defeat to Bayern Munich when they take on SC Freiburg on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund’s excellent start to the season was dealt with a blow this midweek as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the DFL Supercup.
They will be hungry to get back to winning ways when they travel to Schwarzwald Stadion to face SC Freiburg on Saturday. It should serve as the first away match in the Bundesliga for new coach Marco Rose, whose team started the league on a high note by securing a thumping 5-2 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
And with Bayern still lacking cohesion and spirit, despite the midweek win, Die Schwarzgelben will have the opportunity to mount further pressure on Julian Nagelsmann’s troops if they can snatch another resounding victory.
Their opponents this weekend, SC Freiburg, meanwhile, had started their campaign with a goalless draw with Arminia Bielefeld, in front of almost 14,000 fans at the Schucoarena. They are hoping to welcome fans of their own in this fixture that will serve as one of only three remaining matches at the Schwarzwald Stadion before the club from Breisgau move to their newly-built SC Stadion.
Freiburg were 2-1 victors when these two sides last met each other back in February, but the hosts have lost a few key players since and will be largely relying on their existing stars to make the difference, whereas Dortmund will be determined to snatch all three points in an attempt to go top of the embryonic league table.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their much-awaited encounter in Freiburg this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
SC Freiburg have recently announced the departure of Baptiste Santamaria to Rennes. The midfielder had made a substitute appearance in the opening game against Arminia but his loss could have a dire impact, as far as the overall quality of the team is concerned.
Fortunately, Christian Streich’s men have managed to rope in Maxi Eggestein from Werder Bremen. He might not make the starting eleven, though, with Freiburg likely to continue with the double-pivot involving Nicolas Hofler and the young Yannik Keitel.
Jonathan Schmid and captain Christian Gunter are expected to occupy the wingback positions as usual, as Streich continues with the three-man backline. Their crosses could be a vital source of creativity for the home side, especially on the counter.
However, the long-serving head coach of SC Freiburg faces a selection dilemma in defence. Keven Schlotterbeck is pushing for a start after his successful season at Union Berlin but may have to settle for the bench once again, in favour of his brother Nico.
There could still be a change at the back with Manuel Gulde being replaced by Dominique Heintz due to his niggle, thus completing the three-man backline along with former Real Madrid prodigy Philipp Lienhart.
Things get more interesting in the attack, with Ermedin Demirovic hoping to replace Marco Holer as leader of the Freiburg frontline. Hungarian international Roland Sallai may also return at the expense of Woo-yeong Jeong. He will form the three-man SCF attack alongside Demirovic and Vincenzo Grifo.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Flekken; Lienhart, Heintz, Schlotterbeck; Schmid, Keitel, Hofler, Gunter; Sallai, Demirovic, Grifo
Borussia Dortmund have been boosted by positive news over the fitness of their injured individuals. The likes of Mats Hummels, Raphael Guerreiro, Thomas Meunier and Julian Brandt have all recovered, as confirmed by Marco Rose in the pre-match press conference.
None of them are likely to start but they could make the bench. Rose himself may opt for a few changes either way, with Felix Passlack, in particular, likely to make way for Emre Can after a disastrous performance against Bayern Munich.
🎙️ Marco Rose about the squad:
"Multiple players are close to being an option after a long time. Mats [Hummels], Julian [Brandt], Emre [Can], Rapha[el Guerreiro] and Thomas [Meunier] will be training today with the squad for the first time. After that, we make a decision."#BVB
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) August 20, 2021
Nico Schulz may retain his role at left-back after performing quite well so far this season. He should form the four-man backline alongside Can and the two central defenders in Axel Witsel and Manuel Akanji, as they look to protect Gregor Kobel in goal. There might be substitute appearances for Hummels and Guerreiro, in what could be a massive boost for Dortmund.
In midfield, Thomas Delaney is closing in on a switch to Sevilla, which means Rose could once again opt for the midfield duo of Mahmoud Dahoud and Jude Bellingham. The new signing Abdoulaye Kamara is another option after recently becoming the youngest player to play in the German third division when playing for the second team.
In attack, Giovanni Reyna has emerged as one of the most improved players under Rose. He should once again appear alongside Marco Reus in the advanced midfield role, just behind Erling Haaland.
Unfortunately, Thorgan Hazard remains out with an ankle injury, which means Donyell Malen is poised to make his starting debut for Borussia Dortmund. The Dutchman hasn’t shown much since joining the club so it will be a golden opportunity for him to make an impact.
Dortmund have no shortage of attacking options, though, with Youssoufa Moukoko, Reinier and Ansgar Knauff all ready to step in if necessary.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kobel; Can, Witsel, Akanji, Schulz; Bellingham, Dahoud, Reyna; Reus; Haaland, Malen
- Freiburg captain Christian Günter will become the club’s outright appearance holder in the Bundesliga if he features. He currently holds the record together with Andreas Zeyer on 236 games.
- Freiburg are set to play only three more games at the Dreisamstadion, including this, before moving to their new SC-Stadion.
- The Black Forest club’s 2-1 home win in February was their first over Dortmund since May 2010 and only their fourth overall in 42 Bundesliga meetings.
- Erling Haaland’s two goals and assists each against Frankfurt mean he’s had a hand in seven goals from three competitive matches this season.
- Despite now having 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga appearances, this is the first time Erling Haaland has been top of the league’s scoring chart.
Player to Watch
A midweek game against Bayern that saw Moukoko start, coupled with the injury of Haaland should ideally pave the way for Donyell Malen to make his starting debut for Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
As mentioned earlier, the former PSV attacker hasn’t shown much to impress the BVB fans as of yet. But he does possess a lot of talent and can tear apart opposing defences using his pace and ability to drift past players at ease.
There is no doubt that Malen is still trying to settle into Rose’s tactical philosophy that requires a lot of work ethic from the attackers. A game against weakened Freiburg could be an excellent opportunity for him to get into the rhythm.
The Dutchman has the potential of becoming an ideal strike-partner for Malen due to his pace, especially with world-class service from Reus and Reyna in the final third. Hence, Malen is certainly the one to keep an eye on in this interest fixture this weekend.
SC Freiburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
Despite the result in midweek, Borussia Dortmund have performed brilliantly under the leadership of Marco Rose so far. They have made the occasional defensive errors but the quality of their attackers means they are deadly in transition and might prove to be too much for the Freiburg side this weekend.
A lot will depend on how the hosts handle things in midfield, where BVB tend to win a lot of balls. It will be equally important for Streich’s men to provide a threat on the counter, though we expect the Black and Yellows to dominate this affair and emerge as clear victors.