Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to maintain the pressure on FC Bayern Munich when they take on SC Freiburg on Friday.
Borussia Dortmund’s excellent start to 2022 saw them come back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 against Eintracht Frankfurt away from home. The hard-fought three points helped them bridge the gap from table-toppers Bayern Munich to six points while serving as a morale-booster for the team that has suffered major issues this season.
On Friday, Dortmund will be handed the opportunity to momentarily plug the gap to just three points as they take on SC Freiburg at Signal Iduna Park. With 24 points collected from a possible 27, the Black and Yellows have an imperious record at home, with their only defeat of the season coming against Bayern in Der Klassiker.
Dortmund could become the league’s best-performing home team on Friday. But they are coming up against a Freiburg side that has been the surprise package in the Bundesliga this term. With 30 points in 18 matches, the club from Breisgau are presently sitting fourth in the league table, ahead of traditional giants such as Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach and VfL Wolfsburg.
Freiburg were also one of the few teams to have collected points against Dortmund in the first half of the campaign. They won the reverse fixture 2-1, with a second half goal from Roland Sallai proving to be the main difference.
Dortmund should feel much more confident playing Freiburg at Signal Iduna Park, but their home support has been diminished by the authority, as only 700 fans are allowed inside the stadium in the wake of the stretching pandemic. It remains to be seen whether that would be enough to give Die Schwarzgelben the boost they need to come away with all three points in this crucial Bundesliga match-up this Friday.
Team News & Tactics
🎙 Marco Rose:
“Manuel Akanji is an option, he has recovered well after the operation. We have to see how he reacts to stress, but he looks good. Reyna will not play a role this week, and Guerreiro hasn’t trained yet.”
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) January 13, 2022
Borussia Dortmund were dealt with mixed team news heading into this contest. While Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou have both returned to training, it appears Raphael Guerreiro might miss out. Giovanni Reyna is not ready to return either, though both Youssoufa Moukoko and Marius Wolf have been cleared to feature against Freiburg.
Even though Marco Rose has confirmed Akanji’s return to the squad, Dortmund may have to persist with the central defensive partnership of Mats Hummels and the makeshift option in Emre Can, starting ahead of Marin Pongracic.
The left-back slot will be the biggest issue, though, with Guerreiro’s potential absence causing a major loss in quality in the said position. Nico Schulz is the preferred alternative, but his apparent lack of technique and quality might once again make Dortmund predictable on the build-up. Even Thomas Meunier needs to brush up on his forward passing after conceding multiple turnovers against Frankfurt.
Not many changes are expected in midfield, as Mahmoud Dahoud continues to get the nod ahead of Axel Witsel in the number six slot. Alongside him, the creative trifecta of Julian Brandt, Marco Reus and Jude Bellingham should operate as the three number tens in possession, looking to find balls in behind the defence for both Donyell Malen and Erling Haaland.
Malen’s position in the side could in danger after Hazard’s impressive cameo against Frankfurt. But the Dutchman remains favourite to retain his place alongside Haaland as they look to spearhead the Dortmund frontline.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Kobel; Meunier, Can, Hummels, Schulz; Dahoud; Bellingham, Reus, Brandt; Haaland, Malen
SC Freiburg are missing some of their key players as well, including the highly-rated centre-half Nico Schlotterbeck. He lacks match fitness after contracting COVID-19, thus joining Mark Flekken in the club’s list of absentees.
In Nico Schlotterbeck’s absence, his brother Keven remains the favourite to form the central defensive pairing alongside Philipp Lienhart. Lukas Kubler and club captain Christian Gunter should complete the back four that will look to cover Benjamin Uphoff in between the sticks this Friday.
In midfield, Freiburg head coach Christian Streich looks set to continue with the combination of Janik Haberer and Nicolas Hofler. But he does have the option to deploy the hard-working Maximilian Eggestein, should he prefer more energy and work ethic in the second line of press. He remains a genuine option on the bench for the visitors.
Things get a bit more interesting in the attacking department. After starring in the reverse fixture, Roland Sallai remains guaranteed to form the creative trifecta for SCF, alongside Woo-yeong Jeong and set-piece specialist Vincenzo Grifo. Their contributions could be critical in providing the supply for Lucas Holer up front.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Uphoff; Kubler, Lienhart, Schlotterbeck, Gunter; Haberer, Hofler; Sallai, Jeong, Grifo; Holer
- Erling Haaland Haaland has gone two Bundesliga games without scoring for the first time this season. He has two in four meetings with Freiburg.
- Jude Bellingham is enjoying his most productive season to date in an attacking sense, with three goals and five assists (four and nine respectively in all competitions).
- Borussia Dortmund have never lost at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga (W10 D1).
- Christian Streich takes charge of his 375th competitive game as Freiburg head coach. In Europe’s top 10 leagues, just Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone has overseen more matches at one club.
- Only Bayern Munich have fared better on the road in this season’s Bundesliga (19 points) than Freiburg (15 points).
Player to Watch
Mahmoud Dahoud has attracted all the attention following his match-winning performance against Eintracht Frankfurt. With interest surging in the former Gladbach star, he will be hoping to maintain his excellent run of form up against a Freiburg side that will look to make things difficult for him in the middle of the park.
Indeed, Dahoud will have to operate quicker with his passing and distribution. More importantly, he cannot afford to make careless errors and concede turnovers given Freiburg’s lethal counter-attacking capabilities. It might be equally essential for him to link up well with the advanced midfielders in Jude Bellingham, Marco Reus and Julian Brandt.
Apart from his technical asset, the German international also needs to put in a good shift defensively. It will be interesting to see how he fares with his shots on goal as well, after scoring from an excellent effort against Frankfurt.
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 SC Freiburg
Borussia Dortmund remain the favourite to seal all three points considering their imperious record at the Signal Iduna Park. In addition to the historical record, they have momentum on their side as well after sealing an extraordinary comeback win over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.
This is also the game where we might witness Erling Haaland returning to scoring form after failing to find the back of the net in the last two matches. On the flip side, though, Dortmund may end up conceding at least one goal as they continue to miss out on their key defenders, including Manuel Akanji, Dan-Axel Zagadou and potentially Raphael Guerreiro.