Borussia Dortmund will be hoping to maintain their winning momentum when they take on VfL Wolfsburg at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund’s quest for the Bundesliga title may have to wait another year following a series of inconsistent performances throughout the campaign. But thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart last weekend, the Black and Yellows have almost secured the second place in the Bundesliga table, and a win could be enough to seal Champions League football next season.
Dortmund have currently registered 60 points on the board, nine behind table-toppers Bayern Munich. The two sides are set to meet in Der Klassiker in the next matchday, so BVB may even have some hope left, especially if the Bavarians fail to collect all three points in their upcoming game against Arminia Bielefeld.
In Wolfsburg, though, Marco Rose’s men are set to face an opposition, which has one of the strongest teams in the Bundesliga. After finishing inside the top four last term, though, the Wolves have underperformed under Florian Kohfeldt.
With just 34 points on the board, they are dawdling on the wrong end of the table. The visitors are also on a run of seven consecutive defeats against Dortmund, scoring just one goal in the process. Kohfeldt, though, has a decent record against the Black and Yellows, and he will be hoping to end Wolfsburg’s slump as the two sides lock horns at the Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
🎙 Marco Rose:
"Mo dislocated his shoulder, an MRI was done. It's going to take a few days, treat it conservatively, wait for the pain to go away, and then get him back into training." pic.twitter.com/ZnMeRD5W1b
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) April 14, 2022
Borussia Dortmund were dealt with multiple injury blows last week, with Mahmoud Dahoud, Mats Hummels and Giovanni Reyna picking up knocks in the same game. Prior to the game, Donyell Malen had picked up a muscular injury as well and joined others on a lengthy treatment table for the home side.
Hummels’s absence, though, could give Marco Rose the ideal excuse to hand youth sensation Soumaila Coulibaly his Bundesliga debut. The youngster has made a solid impression in the youth leagues this term and deserves to start alongside Manuel Akanji, Emre Can and Raphael Guerreiro in the BVB back four, although Rose is likely to tilt towards Dan-Axel Zagadou.
In midfield, Axel Witsel remains a guaranteed starter in light of Dahoud’s absence. The veteran Belgian should occupy the double-pivot alongside Jude Bellingham, with the duo hoping to orchestrate the proceedings using their technical brilliance and positional awareness.
Moving forward, Julian Brandt could be rewarded for his brilliant display against Stuttgart. The German international should form the three-man creative trifecta for the home side, alongside Marco Reus and Marius Wolf, although Thorgan Hazard and the young Jamie Bynoe-Gittens are exciting alternatives available at Rose’s disposal.
And finally, the Dortmund frontline should be spearheaded by none other than Erling Haaland. The Norwegian international is currently on a goal drought, having failed to score even once following his return from injury. He will be desperate to find the back of the net against a Wolfsburg side known for their deficiencies at the back.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kobel; Can, Akanji, Zagadou, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Witsel; Wolf, Reus, Brandt; Haaland
VfL Wolfsburg are not missing too many key players, with Paulo Otavio being the only important absentee heading into this weekend’s encounter.
"It’s easy to see how clinical Dortmund are this year, which obviously speaks volumes for their quality. We’re going there with a lot of respect, but that shouldn’t stop us from creating our own chances and scoring goals." pic.twitter.com/p3mqdvrkZ5
— VfL Wolfsburg EN/US 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 (@VfLWolfsburg_EN) April 15, 2022
Given the way the Wolves performed against Arminia Bielefeld in the last game, one can expect Kohfeldt to field the same starting eleven. His 3-4-2-1 can indeed cause problems for the Dortmund backline that tend to struggle in dealing with a numerically superior midfield.
That is where Maximilian Arnold and Xaver Schlager could come into the fray. Their dynamism and ability to win back possession could be key in stifling the progress of ball-carriers such as Julian Brandt, Marco Reus and Jude Bellingham. The wing-backs Ridle Baku and Yannick Gerhardt might be equally important in denying the wide players the opportunity to make an impact.
Baku, though, will be given the freedom to march forward. His pace could go a long way in helping Wolfsburg exploit the space left out by Guerreiro on the flanks, as the German international looks to feed the offensive players such as Max Kruse, Jonas Wind and the in-form Lukas Nmecha.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Casteels; Lacroix, Bornauw, Brooks; Baku, Schlager, Arnold, Gerhardt; Wind, Kruse; Nmecha
- Although averaging a league goal every 92 minutes this season – and every 88 over his Bundesliga career – Erling Haaland is on his longest scoring drought in Germany (384 minutes).
- Former Wolfsburg man Julian Brandt’s brace last matchday took him to seven goals for the season. A league-high five of those have come from counter-attacks.
- Borussia have lost three of their last five competitive matches at Signal Iduna Park.
- Max Kruse has five goals and six assists in his last 15 Bundesliga games against Dortmund. He also scored against them for Union Berlin this season.
- Since beating BVB 3-1 in the 2014/15 DFB Cup final, Wolfsburg have failed to win against Borussia in 13 meetings (D1 L12) and failed to score on their last five visitors to Dortmund.
Player to Watch
While the spotlight will be on Erling Haaland and for good reasons, one player who can potentially make a huge impact in this contest is Max Kruse.
The former German international has not quite hit the ground running since his move from Union Berlin in January. He has been involved in only three goals in nine matches, but his overall influence has been far greater. His ability to open up space for his teammates has offered a greater degree of freedom for other attackers including Lukas Nmecha and Jonas Wind.
Kruse also has an excellent record against Borussia Dortmund, having scored five goals while registering six assists in his 15 outings in the league. And Dortmund having a vulnerable backline, it won’t be surprising to see the former Union Berlin star dominate the proceedings this weekend.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 VfL Wolfsburg
With nothing much to play for, Borussia Dortmund have looked far more relaxed in recent years. While they were humiliated in their last home game, the Black and Yellows do have an extraordinary record at Signal Iduna Park and are coming on the back of clinical performance against Stuttgart.
Wolfsburg could be a far bigger challenge, but it is one Dortmund are expected to overcome due to their attacking quality, coupled with his lack of pressure. This is an ideal opportunity for Marco Rose to experiment with new players and tactics as the team gears up for a crucial summer ahead.