Borussia Dortmund are hoping to maintain pressure on league leaders Bayern Munich, as they take on Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday.
After slumping to a shocking 4-0 victory at the hands of Ajax, Borussia Dortmund will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they take on Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday.
The Black and Yellows are currently second in the Bundesliga table with 18 points in eight matches. They have retained a hundred percent winning record at home this season but their performances away from home have been dismal so far, having secured only three points in three matches.
However, an encounter against one of the bottom clubs, in the form of Arminia serves as an ideal opportunity for Marco Rose’s men to get back on track and continue his side’s push for the top spot. They are trailing Bayern Munich only by a point and with the Bavarians facing a tricky test against Hoffenheim at the same time, the visitors do have an excellent chance of regaining their place at the top.
Arminia, though, are no slouch and had performed extremely well to escape relegation from the Bundesliga last season. Frank Kramer’s men certainly know how to perform against the big clubs, irrespective of their performances this season.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial matchup in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Arminia Bielefeld coach Frank Kramer is not missing too many key players through injury. But the German will be faced with a selection dilemma nonetheless, especially in the number nine role, where Janni Serra and Fabian Klos are vying for a place in the team. Klos might get the nod due to his experience, and ability to sense goalscoring opportunities.
Given how successful Ajax were with their symmetric formation this midweek, Kramer might just switch to a 4-2-3-1, with Patrick Wimmer being promoted to an attacking role on the right. The youngster could be partnered by Alessandro Schopf and Robin Hack, as part of Bielefeld’s creative department.
In addition to creating opportunities for Klos upfront, the three will play a vital role in the second line of press, aiding the central midfielders in Edimilson Fernandes and Manuel Prietl.
Defensively, the return to a four-man backline should see Cedric Brunner shift to the right-back role, with Joakim Nilsson and former Dortmund youth player Amos Pieper operating at centre-back and Jacob Laursen occupying the left-back position, hoping to contain the BVB pressure from the flanks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; Brunner, Pieper, Nilsson, Laursen; Prietl, Fernandes; Wimmer, Schopf, Hack; Klos
It has been a difficult week for Borussia Dortmund and if the midweek loss to Ajax wasn’t enough, Marco Rose has confirmed that Erling Haaland, Nico Schulz and Thomas Meunier have all sustained injuries, which rules them out for the next few weeks.
🏥 Current list of injured:
– Raphaël Guerreiro
– Mateu Morey
– Nico Schulz
– Soumaïla Coulibaly
– Thomas Meunier
– Mo Dahoud
– Gio Reyna
– Erling Haaland
– Youssoufa Moukoko #BVB
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) October 22, 2021
They join Raphael Guerreiro, Mahmoud Dahoud, Youssoufa Moukoko, Mateu Morey and Giovanni Reyna on the sidelines, further minimising the club’s attacking options. Hence, the task of spearheading the BVB frontline will fall to Donyell Malen, alongside Marco Reus.
It remains to be seen how Rose deals with the defensive issues, though, with both of the premier full-backs in Meunier and Guerreiro out injured. A five-man backline appears to be the best solution, with Thorgan Hazard operating out wide while Felix Passlack could deputise for the injured Meunier on the opposite flank.
As for the three central defensive option, Dan-Axel Zagadou is pushing for a start and may even get the nod ahead of Mats Hummels. The Frenchman should operate on the left-hand side of the backline, partnering Marin Pongracic and Manuel Akanji.
Zagadou can operate as a left-back, so his presence in the backline could help Dortmund effortlessly integrate into a four-man defence, if required.
Meanwhile, in midfield, Axel Witsel could be axed in favour of Emre Can. The former Liverpool midfielder will operate in the holding midfield role, covering the backline, just behind the advanced midfielders in Jude Bellingham and Julian Brandt.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Kobel; Akanji, Pongracic, Zagadou; Passlack, Bellingham, Can, Brandt, Hazard; Reus, Malen
- Borussia Dortmund have won all five of their home games in the Bundesliga this season, but have only picked up three points on the road so far (W1 L2).
- Erling Haaland could have marked his 50th Bundesliga game with his 50th Bundesliga goal this weekend – he is currently on 49 in 49.
- Haaland’s tally of nine goals so far is more than double Bielefeld’s combined total of four – the joint-lowest of any side so far this season.
- Arminia Bielefeld defender Amos Pieper joined the club from Dortmund in January 2019 and has since become a key member of the backline.
- Bielefeld have beaten Dortmund more times (12) than any other Bundesliga side, including 10 at home, but they have not won any of their last six meetings with BVB.
Player to Watch
By no means at fault for the team being 2-0 down, but Donyell Malen didn't manage a single dribble or shot in the first half against Ajax.
Now just one goal in 745 minutes of football for Dortmund this season.
— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) October 19, 2021
Donyell Malen is facing increasing pressure once again following his constant struggles in the Bundesliga. Since joining from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, the forward has failed to score a single goal in the German top-flight, with his only Dortmund goal coming in the narrow win over Sporting CP in the UEFA Champions League.
Since that goal, Malen has consistently underperformed, failing to provide any inspiration going forward. His struggles, especially at a time when Haaland is out injured, have hurt BVB badly, and it is apparent that the Dutchman needs to find his feet quickly if he is to avoid facing further backlash and risk putting his Dortmund career in jeopardy.
Arminia Bielefeld 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Arminia Bielefeld are always a challenging team that can act as a coherent unit and make life difficult for the opposition. Up against a Dortmund side that are missing a host of their key players including Haaland, we are expecting a close game, with the result likely to be decided by the barest of margins.
Dortmund are the undisputed favourites due to the overall quality of the squad. But it won’t be surprising to see them struggle defensively, though we do expect Malen and Reus to star in this game.