Marco Rose will be under the microscope when Borussia Dortmund take on VfB Stuttgart at the Mercedes Benz Arena this Friday.

A shambolic 4-1 defeat to RB Leipzig last weekend may have genuine repercussions on the overall outlook of the team going into the new season. The soon to be sporting director Sebastian Kehl is already hell-bent on ringing in massive changes to the club’s system in the summer, with even the medical staff likely to be fired, along with several unwanted players.

Even Marco Rose’s role as head coach has come under scrutiny, with a recent report from Sport Bild suggesting that the club could fire the German tactician if Borussia Dortmund lose in their upcoming Friday night encounter against VfB Stuttgart.

With a nine-point gap between them and table toppers Bayern Munich, Dortmund have nothing much to play for during the remainder of the campaign. It could be an opportunity for Rose to try out new tactics or players, though it will be imperative that Dortmund finish second in the league, as it will generate greater revenue.

It is a far more important game for their opponent Stuttgart, who are embroiled in a tense relegation battle at the moment. With just six wins on the board this season, the Swabians are leading relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha Berlin by just one point, and could soon fall into the drop zone if they fail to garner points against Dortmund.

Stuttgart did provide a good fight in the Hinspiel, losing narrowly at the Signal Iduna Park. And they will be hoping to provide a tougher resistance at home this Friday, as Pellegrino Matarazzo’s men look to capitalise on their current unbeaten run of four games.

Team News & Tactics

VfB Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart are missing a plethora of first-team stars, with Sasa Kalajdzic being the latest to join the list after contracting COVID-19. He is joined by defender Waldemar Anton (suspended), Daniel Didavi (injury), Philipp Forster (fitness) and Silas (injury) among many others in the club’s list of absentees.

Kalajdzic’s absence could create a massive void in Stuttgart’s offensive unit, especially with Silas also missing in action. The onus will be on the gifted Tiago Tomas to soften the blow with his technical prowess and pace in the final third, while additional attacking support should be provided by Omar Marmoush and Chris Fuhrich.

Fuhrich is one of many ex-BVB youth players to feature in this Stuttgart lineup, with the list also including defensive midfielder Atakan Karazor and right-back Pascal Stenzel, who is the only among three to appear in a competitive game for Dortmund.

Nevertheless, Fuhrich being promoted to a slightly attacking role should see Matarazzo bring in Orel Mangala in midfield. The Belgian is another player who used to ply his trade in the BVB youth ranks before leaving the setup in search of a breakthrough.

Defensively, the absence of Anton will be a major blow, though Hiroki Ito is more than capable of filling in for him at centre-back, alongside Konstantinos Mavropanos. Borna Sosa should complete the back four that will play a vital role in protecting Florian Muller in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Muller; Stenzel, Mavropanos, Ito, Sosa; Endo, Karazor, Mangala; Fuhrich, Marmoush; Tomas

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Borussia Dortmund

Marco Rose has mentioned Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland as potential doubts, but he remains confident both can play in this important encounter.

Rose is likely to opt for a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Emre Can once again occupying the right-back slot in the absence of Thomas Meunier, Mateu Morey and Felix Passlack. There should not be any changes elsewhere either, with Manuel Akanji and Mats Hummels forming the central defensive duo.

Dortmund could introduce one change in midfield. Axel Witsel is set to make way for Mahmoud Dahoud, who offers a bit more mobility in the middle of the park. It could be hugely important against a Stuttgart side that boast a strong second line of press and can pressurise the Dortmund ball-carriers quite easily.

Jude Bellingham appears to struggle when deployed in a double-pivot. But he may have to continue operating in that role alongside Dahoud. The onus will be on the Englishman to offer creativity going forward, alongside the number ten in Marco Reus.

In the attack, Giovanni Reyna is pushing for a start after only making the bench against Leipzig. The American international will be desperate to make an impact after missing a chunk of the season due to injury. The same goes for Erling Haaland and Donyell Malen, who have struggled to score since the turn of the year.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kobel; Can, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Dahoud; Reyna, Reus, Malen; Haaland

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Key Stats

  • Sasa Kalajdzic has four goals and two assists across his last six Bundesliga games.
  • Borna Sosa has produced 18 assists in his first 60 Bundesliga appearances, including two in three meetings with Dortmund.
  • Stuttgart are the most in-form side among the bottom six, with eight points from the last 15 on offer (W2 D2 L1).
  • Despite his mini drought, Erling Haaland is still averaging a goal every 86 minute in this season’s Bundesliga (16 in 18 games).
  • Borussia Dortmund generally do not perform well away from home. But they have only lost two of their last 10 trips to Stuttgart (W7 D2).

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland. (Photo by Marco Verch)

Eyeing a return to form. (Photo by Marco Verch)

This is important for Erling Haaland, who has struggled with form since returning from injury. He is yet to score in any of his last four Bundesliga matches. It is a cause for concern for Marco Rose, as the Norwegian’s lack of productivity has affected the team overall, leading to a string of bad results.

Haaland has often lacked the drive one usually associates with the towering centre-forward. But all is not lost for the youngster, who is more than capable of making an impact in the game against a Stuttgart defence that has appeared quite vulnerable defensively this season.

Not to mention, the return of Giovanni Reyna and Donyell Malen to the starting eleven could significantly improve the creative output all around him, so we could brace themselves for a Haaland masterclass this Friday.

Prediction

VfB Stuttgart 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund are not one of the best teams when it comes to playing away from home. They did not even fare well at home last weekend and with the pressure mounting, the onus will be on the players to show strong character and get back to winning ways.

Fortunately for the visitors, they are up against a Stuttgart team has emerged as one of the most underperforming teams in the Bundesliga. If the absence of Silas wasn’t enough, the Swabians have also been dealt with the recent unavailability of Sasa Kalajdzic, which could gravely impact the team’s attacking prowess.

Nevertheless, we are predicting a close encounter, with Stuttgart likely to score the odd goal through a set-piece or counter-attack, but it is Dortmund who may seal all three points, thanks to the attacking endeavours of Haaland and co.

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