With two defeats in two games, Borussia Dortmund are in a spot of bother and hoping to recover when they take on TSG Hoffenheim on Friday.

Matchday 3 of the 2021/22 edition of the Bundesliga kicks off on Friday night as Borussia Dortmund play hosts to TSG Hoffenheim at the Signal Iduna Park. It is the final game week before European football goes into a two-week hiatus for the upcoming international break.

Going into the break on a positive note could be crucial for Dortmund, who are in a spot of bother with two back to back defeats. Although Die Schwarzgelben had started the season well, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2, they fell to a demoralising defeat to Bayern Munich in the DFL Supercup.

It was followed by yet another 2-0 defeat to SC Freiburg, a game where they were completely outclassed. The loss sees Dortmund lose some valuable ground in these early stages, especially with Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig enjoying resounding victories last weekend.

BVB’s quest to get back to winning ways won’t be made any easier either this week either, as they take on Hoffenheim. The club from Sinsheim are currently placed second in the embryonic table, and there is a clear sign of improvement in the squad, which is currently on a ten-game unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga, dating back to April 2021.

Coached by former Bayern youth trainer Sebastian Hoeness, Die Kraichgauer started the campaign with a 4-0 victory over FC Augsburg before being held to a 2-2 draw by Union Berlin in the last game. They will be hoping for at least another point against the demoralised Dortmund, though that could be a difficult task as 25,000 home supporters root for the Black and Yellows.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at both these teams ahead of their blockbuster encounter at the Signal Iduna Park this Friday night.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Marco Rose offered fresh injury update during his pre-match press conference in Dortmund earlier on Thursday. Mats Hummels has been ruled out due to a knock, but Thomas Meunier is back available.

It remains to be seen whether Rose opts to throw the Belgian directly back into the action, though, given the struggles of Felix Passlack, it could be a likely scenario. Raphael Guerreiro, meanwhile, is set to replace Nico Schulz at left-back, adding some much-needed quality in the BVB backline.

Following the performance against Freiburg, Dortmund need to step up defensively. But with Hummels missing, Rose may once again have to persist with the makeshift central defensive duo of Axel Witsel and Manuel Akanji.

Emre Can is making a case to be included in the starting lineup, at the expense of Mahmoud Dahoud. However, Dahoud might play an essential role in helping Dortmund retain control of the game, so we expect him to once again form the three-man midfield setup alongside Jude Bellingham and Giovanni Reyna.

Alternatively, Rose could go for Can in central defence and Witsel in holding midfield. It would enable Dahoud to play a more advanced role, but force either Bellingham or Reyna to the bench.

Meanwhile, in attack, Thorgan Hazard is likely out, which means Youssoufa Moukoko and Donyell Malen are competing for a place alongside Erling Haaland. Moukoko might get the nod, forming the BVB attack along with Haaland and Marco Reus, who is the team’s creator-in-chief in the number ten role.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Kobel; Meunier, Witsel, Akanji, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Dahoud; Reus, Reyna; Moukoko, Haaland

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TSG Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim’s tactical approach against Borussia Dortmund should be pretty simple – attack through the flanks while preventing the opposition from playing through the middle. The method worked out pretty well for Koln, as they offered the space out wide which the BVB full-backs couldn’t exploit.

However, coach Hoeness could face a serious problem in the fact that Dortmund have since been reinforced by the return of Meunier and Guerreiro, two technically astute full-backs who can cause all sorts of problems if given the freedom out wide.

Nevertheless, Hoffenheim’s biggest strength is their attack. And with Andrej Kramaric in an excellent run of form, they will be banking on him to make the difference, with additional support from Christoph Baumgartner, Georginio Rutter and former Dortmund prodigy, Jacob Bruun Larsen, who has already netted twice this season.

In midfield, Angelo Stiller is pushing for a start, after starring in the 2-2 draw with Union. He should once again get the nod ahead of Dennis Geiger, thus forming the double-pivot alongside Sebastian Rudy.

Defensively, Hoffenheim aren’t expected to make any changes, though the central defensive duo of Stefan Posch and Kevin Vogt must improve in order to have any hopes of keeping Haaland at bay. They will be hoping for some much-needed support from full-backs Kevin Agpoguma and David Raum, although the latter will have the license to march forward.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Baumann; Agpoguma, Posch, Vogt, Raum; Rudy, Stiller; Baumgartner, Kramaric, Bruun Larsen; Rutter

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Key Stats

  • Giovanni Reyna is set to make his 50th Bundesliga appearance. Since debuting on 8 January 2020, he has registered five goals and eight assists.
  • Borussia Dortmund have won only one of their last seven fixtures against Hoffenheim (D3, L3).
  • Andrej Kramaric has scored seven times in eight games against Dortmund. He’s only found the net more often against Hertha (eight goals).
  • Jacob Bruun Larsen turned out for the BVB U17s and 19s, before making 41 competitive appearances for the senior side between September 2017 and October 2019.
  • Erling Haaland has one goal and an assist to show for his first three meetings with Hoffenheim.

Player to Watch

Andrej Kramaric

Despite the abundance of star players Borussia Dortmund have in their ranks, it is Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric who could be the most important player in this fixture. He is, after all, the leader of the TSG attack and the one player who boasts the ability to cause all kinds of problems for the vulnerable BVB backline.

What has been particularly impressive about Kramaric’s development under Hoeness is that the former Leicester City man has transformed into more of a creator than a goalscorer. Heading into MD3, the Croatian international has already racked up four assists in two Bundesliga matches while scoring a brace in DFB Pokal.

Kramaric’s transformation has allowed him to get away from the spotlight and attention of opposition. He can now drop in and influence the game while attackers like Rutter or Bruun Larsen look to keep the opposition busy with their offensive movements.

BVB coach Marco Rose has already warned his team about the Hoffenheim forward heading into this game, so it will be interesting to see how they defend him this Friday.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 3-1 TSG Hoffenheim

Borussia Dortmund are not in great shape heading into this encounter. Their defence has looked extremely vulnerable while the attackers were completely prevented from making an impact in the game against Freiburg.

However, with the return of Meunier and Guerreiro, we expect the Black and Yellows to improve considerably. As for Hoffenheim, they couldn’t defend their lead twice in the game against Union and their faltering defence could open up the opportunity for Haaland & co. to run rings around them this Friday.

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