Borussia Dortmund are hoping to get back to winning ways as they play hosts to FC Augsburg at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach last week served as a massive blow in their quest to keep up with Bayern Munich in the early season title race. The result saw them slip to fourth in the league table and four points away from the table-toppers as we head towards Matchday 7.
Dortmund did bounce back in midweek, securing a narrow 1-0 victory over Sporting CP in the UEFA Champions League. This weekend, they will remain at Signal Iduna Park to welcome FC Augsburg on Saturday, hoping to build a winning momentum once again.
Die Schwarzgelben have had an impressive record at home, securing back to back wins in seven successive Bundesliga matches. Marco Rose will be hoping to maintain that record when they take on an Augsburg side that has collected only five points from the opening six matches.
A 1-0 win over Gladbach a fortnight ago was certainly a massive boost for Markus Weinzierl’s men, but they slumped to a 3-0 defeat to SC Freiburg in the last matchday. The Bavarians could slip further and potentially drop into the relegation zone in the event of another defeat this weekend.
Dortmund, meanwhile, are desperate for all three points as they look to keep up with Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Bayern at the top end of the league table. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial game at Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose has confirmed the unavailability of Erling Haaland heading into this encounter. The striker is set to return only after the international break, which means Donyell Malen should once again spearhead the attack for the home side.
🕹 Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard are the most likeliest options for tomorrow alongside Jude Bellingham and Axel Witsel, while Raphael Guerreiro has an "outside chance" to play at the left 8 with Nico Schulz replacing him at LB.#BVB
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) October 1, 2021
With Rose likely to opt for a 4-3-1-2, Thorgan Hazard is the favourite to start alongside the Dutchman in the BVB frontline, with Marco Reus operating just behind. The club captain will be given a versatile role where he can drop deeper, with Hazard also given the freedom to drift out wide to cover any spaces.
As for the midfield, Rose has confirmed the return of Emre Can to the squad. But the German is unlikely to make the starting eleven while Mahmoud Dahoud is both injured and suspended. As such, Axel Witsel will control the number six position, supported by Jude Bellingham and Julian Brandt on either side.
This system does create an excellent leeway for counter-pressing the opponent. But the two advanced midfielders simply cannot afford to lose possession as it tends to leave the defence completely exposed. The full-backs in Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro, to that end, will play a vital role in avoiding such a scenario.
However, the most important part of their game will be to make use of the space given in wide position and thus stretch the opposition defence. Hazard and Meunier’s connection on the right flank is something worth keeping an eye on.
As for central defence, Mats Hummels should continue to start ahead of new signing Marin Pongracic, forming the partnership alongside Manuel Akanji as they look to cover Gregor Kobel in goal. The Swiss goalkeeper is yet to register a clean sheet in the Bundesliga since joining Dortmund from Stuttgart this summer.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kobel; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Witsel, Brandt; Reus; Hazard, Malen
Augsburg have key defender Felix Uduokhai out injured, so coach Markus Weinzierl is set to continue with Robert Gumny starting on the right side of the back three consisting of him, Reece Oxford and captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw.
“Of course they have a very good team. But in football, you never know what can happen!” pic.twitter.com/57xAOZcSTu
— FC Augsburg (@FCA_World) September 30, 2021
The back three should play a vital role in keeping the Dortmund attack quiet for the entirety of the proceedings. But given the quality of the opposition, the defenders might seek help from the wingbacks and that is where things get a bit muddled, as key full-back Iago remains a doubt due to illness.
As such, Raphael Framberger and Mads Pedersen should continue to occupy the wing-back roles, oscillating between a deep defensive line and the second line of press. As for the midfield, Daniel Caligiuri, Fredrik Jensen and new signing Niklas Dorsch will be in charge of hurrying the Dortmund ball-carriers and break up their play in the middle of the park.
Caligiuri can also be useful with his dead balls deliveries, which is one of Dortmund’s key issues. The former Schalke star already has an excellent record against Die Schwarzgelben so he remains one of the biggest threats for the opposition defence this weekend.
As far as the actual attacking department is concerned, Swiss international Ruben Vargas guaranteed starter due to his pace and dynamism in the final third. But his usual partner Florian Niederlechner is a doubt due to injury, which puts new signing Andi Zeqiri in contention for a start.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Gikiewicz; Gumny, Gouweleeuw, Oxford; Framberger, Caligiuri, Dorsch, Jensen, Pedersen; Zeqiri, Vargas
- Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel made 16 appearances for Augsburg whilst on loan from Hoffenheim during the second half of the 2018/19 season.
- Borussia Dortmund have won all three of their home games this Bundesliga season, despite conceding twice in each one.
- As was the case in Markus Weinzierl’s first season in charge back in 2012/13, Augsburg have scored only twice across their opening six league games.
- Augsburg forward Florian Niederlechner has put away both of them. He’s netted three in nine against BVB.
- Augsburg have won only one of 10 Bundesliga games in Dortmund (D3, L6).
Player to Watch
Donyell Malen has arrived. pic.twitter.com/CvisD0jC2T
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) September 28, 2021
Donyell Malen is certainly the one player worth keeping an eye on for Borussia Dortmund in this key fixture. The new signing from PSV Eindhoven initially had a difficult start to his career in Germany, failing to register a goal or assist in almost 500 minutes. But that changed in the midweek game against Sporting, where the attacker scored the vital winner to help his team collect all three points.
The goal has given Malen the boost he needed to truly kickstart his Dortmund career. And with Erling Haaland out injured, it is his time to make himself heard in front of the legendary yellow wall as he looks for his first goal in the Bundesliga.
Tactically, Malen will operate as a central striker, with additional support from Hazard, Reus and occasionally Brandt. It is evident that the Dutchman is having some communication difficulties with his new teammates but that has improved significantly and this game against Augsburg could be the ultimate chance for Malen to shine and increasing his scoring tally before jumping into the international break.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund had started the season on a flurry, scoring goals for fun thanks to the exploits of Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna in the final third. But with both the players injured, Rose has implemented a pragmatic system with more emphasis on defence.
It has hurt their creative prowess in the final third, leading to lack of clear cut opportunities in recent weeks. But it has given them the additional defensive solidity they had been missing in recent years. As such, we are expecting a low scoring encounter this weekend, with Dortmund likely to prevail due to their quality in attack as well as the support of the fans.