Borussia Dortmund will be bracing themselves for a tough challenge when they take on second division leaders FC St. Pauli in the DFB Pokal on Tuesday.
Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed an excellent start to the calendar year. The Bundesliga giants started their journey with an impressive 3-2 comeback win over Eintracht Frankfurt before breezing past SC Freiburg 5-1, in what was one of their performances of the season.
On Tuesday, the focus will shift to the DFB Pokal as they travel to Millerntor-Stadion to face St. Pauli in the Round of 16. As the defending champions of the cup, the pressure will be high on Marco Rose’s men, who were made to work hard for their win over FC Ingolstadt in the previous round.
Dortmund struggled to create a breakthrough for a large portion of the game before an excellent second-half cameo by Thorgan Hazard saved their blushes. While Ingolstadt were at the rock bottom of the 2.Bundesliga at the time, things could get much trickier against a St. Pauli side currently leading the second division.
With 37 points on the board, the club from Hamburg seem destined to win promotion come May. Their DFB Pokal campaign has been a bit more dramatic, as they have clinched 3-2 wins over Magdeburg in the first round and Dynamo Dresden in the Round of 32. The upcoming Round of 16 tie is going to be the toughest one yet, as Timo Schultz’s men get an early taste of the Bundesliga action.
The two teams last met each other in a competitive encounter back in 2014, in the second round of the Pokal. Dortmund won the game rather comfortably, with Ciro Immobile, Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa scoring in a 3-0 rout. The visitors are hoping for a similar result in their quest to secure a place in the DFB Pokal quarter-final this season.
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FC St. Pauli
"We came through the first two rounds for a chance of a home game against very attractive opposition," said head coach Timo #Schultz at the news conference ahead of the @DFBPokal_EN Round of 16 tie against @BlackYellow.
— FC St. Pauli English (@fcstpauli_EN) January 17, 2022
FC St. Pauli head coach Timo Schultz has his work cut out against an in-form Dortmund attack that has netted eight goals in the last two Bundesliga matches. It will certainly be a difficult task to meet Marco Rose’s diamond shape head-on, but it won’t be surprising to see the second division league leaders opt for a 4-1-2-1-2 formation that is likely to remain narrow, allowing freedom for the opposition wing-backs.
The two banks of four will hope to cover Dennis Smarsch in goal. With promotion remaining a priority, Schultz might want to make one or two further changes in defence, with Luca Zander, in particular, likely to replace Sebastian Ohlsson at right-back.
The 23-year-old is set to form the St. Pauli backline alongside Philipp Ziereis, Jakov Medic and left-back Leart Paqarada. They are expected to receive additional defensive cover from the number six Eric Smith, who may even operate as an auxiliary centre-back if required. Smith is set to be accompanied by midfielders Jackson Irvine and Marcel Hartel, who does have some Bundesliga experience under his belt.
Moving forward, Christopher Buchtmann remains favourite to occupy the number ten slot, just behind the two central strikers in Maximilian Dittgen and Guido Burgstaller, whose goalscoring pedigree arguably makes him the most important player for St. Pauli in this contest.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Smarsch; Zander, Ziereis, Medic, Paparada; Smith; Irvine, Hartel; Buchtmann; Dittgen, Burgstaller
Borussia Dortmund were handed two fresh injury blows on the weekend with Emre Can ruled out for at least a week. Giovanni Reyna is not fit enough to start either, while Thomas Meunier is likely to miss out as well after picking up a knock against SC Freiburg.
Meunier’s absence should pave the way for Marius Wolf to earn a rare start at right-back. Meanwhile, Can’s injury should give Marco Rose an excellent excuse to bring Manuel Akanji back into the starting eleven. The Swiss international looked rusty against Freiburg but will hope to get back to his best alongside Mats Hummels, with Raphael Guerreiro completing the Dortmund backline.
Next stop, St. Pauli 🎸⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Qx7n0iqBAh
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) January 17, 2022
In midfield, Rose would ideally prefer to offer Mahmoud Dahoud a breather, meaning we could expect Axel Witsel to operate in the holding midfield position. His experience and composure on the ball could be useful in a game where Dortmund are likely to dominate possession.
Witsel should be partnered by Jude Bellingham and Julian Brandt in midfield. The two are likely to operate alongside Marco Reus as the three number tens, just behind the two main forwards in Donyell Malen and Erling Haaland.
Thorgan Hazard is pushing for a start as well after two useful cameos against Frankfurt and Freiburg. So it could be more of a toss up between him and Malen, whereas Youssoufa Moukoko could be given a runout against his former youth team later in the second half.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Kobel; Wolf, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Witsel; Bellingham, Reus, Brandt; Haaland, Malen
- These two sides have met once before in the cup, back in the 2014/15 season’s second-round when Borussia Dortmund ran out 3-0 winners. BVB eventually went on to lose the final 3-1 to Wolfsburg that year.
- St. Pauli last beat Dortmund on 30 November 1989 in the Bundesliga. They have two top-flight wins from 16 previous meetings, with Dortmund winning 11 and the two teams sharing three draws.
- While defending champions Borussia Dortmund have five DFB Cup trophies, St. Pauli have never won the competition. The furthest they have reached is the 2005/06 semi-finals when they were beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich.
- Erling Haaland has scored seven goals in six DFB Cup matches since joining Dortmund, including all three in the 3-0 first-round win over Wehen Wiesbaden and two in last year’s final.
- Dortmund have won their last eight DFB Cup matches and have not lost in the competition since the 3-2 defeat to Werder Bremen in the 2019/20 Round of 16.
Player to Watch
Dahoud on Haaland: "Dortmund isn't just made up of Erling Haaland. We are strong as a team. Erling also lives off our passes and we benefit from him. That's how it is in a team." [BVB] #BVB pic.twitter.com/iy7AVLGB8c
— Luca 🦦 (@L89_BVB) January 16, 2022
Erling Haaland was injured when Borussia Dortmund met FC Ingolstadt in the second round of DFB Pokal. However, he had bagged a hat-trick in his last cup game against Wehen Wiesbaden. In addition, the Norwegian put an end to his two-game goalscoring drought on Friday by netting twice in the 5-1 win over SC Freiburg.
Haaland’s physical prowess and his ability to make runs in behind the backline could be critical when Dortmund lock horns with FC St. Pauli on Tuesday. Moreover, the youngster has made a solid impression lately with his ability to create chances. He has notably bagged six assists in the Bundesliga this term and remains the main threat for the opposition this week.
FC St. Pauli 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
It is going to be a difficult game for FC St. Pauli as they have been dominating games in the 2.Bundesliga this season. The club from Hamburg often like to keep possession and are barely used to defending throughout ninety minutes.
So the transition to a more conservative style of play could be a bit too difficult for the second division leaders, especially up against the mighty Dortmund attack that has been scoring goals for fun lately.