Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig – Sunday, August 25, 17:00 BST/18:00 CEST – SIGNAL IDUNA Park, Dortmund, Germany
Everything is supposed to be different for Borussia Dortmund this season under new head coach Lucien Favre. The head coach was brought in this summer after a year in which Dortmund struggled to make it into the top four of the Bundesliga.
Favre is supposed to stabilise the club and at the same time play beautiful football. The DFB Pokal match on Monday, however, highlighted that Favre might need some time until his squad plays the football that he envisions.
Still slow, and sluggish, at times Dortmund needed extra-time to dispose of second division side SpVgg Greuther Fürth. It was only thanks to the individual brilliance of new signing Axel Witsel and captain Marco Reus that the Schwarz-Gelben managed to go through.
“Please give us some time,” Favre then told the media after the match. But time is also what Peter Bosz demanded last season when the club made a furious start but went an entire month without winning a game. The truth is there are no transitional seasons in football. Bosz learned that the hard way when he was fired in December.
Favre, however, seems unlikely to befall the same fate. The Swiss head coach is among the best coaches, when it comes to trainers that have never coached a top European club, and plays a style of football that has a high probability of success. Now with a top squad and players that fit his style the sky seems the limit for Favre in the long-term.
Medium-term Dortmund still need to sign a striker – Barcelona’s Francisco “Paco” Alcacer seemed the likeliest candidate to take that role at the time of writing – to truly challenge Bayern at the top this season. But even without a striker this Dortmund side once used to Favre’s style, will be dangerous and among a pack of three or four teams that could challenge for the title this season.
RB Leipzig, in the meantime, are still somewhat off from being a title challenger. Finishing sixth last season die Roten Bullen parted ways with Ralph Hasenhüttl and after a long hunt for a new coach announced the signing of Julian Nagelsmann for the 2019/20 season.
Until then sporting director Ralf Rangnick will be in charge in a double role. Rangnick, together with assistant coach Jesse Marsch, will now prepare the field for Nagelsmann in what will be a bit of a transitional year for Leipzig.
Hence, Leipzig will walk the fine line between being competitive this season while also building a team that can challenge for the title a season from now under Nagelsmann. At the same time, Rangnick is ambitious, and he wants Leipzig to do well in all three European competitions.
To do that, however, Leipzig lack some depth. In midfield, Leipzig are still looking for a replacement for Naby Keïta and also continue to negotiate with Everton to sign Ademola Lookman. The match on Thursday against Zorya Luhansk highlighted the need for both Lookman and a Mister X, who can string together Leipzig’s midfield.
One man up Leipzig failed to break down the Ukrainians and with a thin squad are now forced to play the same players against Dortmund on Sunday before hosting Zorya on Thursday at the Red Bull Arena. Hence, Leipzig will need to add some depth shortly as the Rangnick’s project seems to be at least one step behind Favre’s revitalisation project in Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig – Players to look out for:
Axel Witsel #28 – Borussia Dortmund
Instant impact! Axel Witsel came on in the second half of the Pokal first round match against Fürth and right away highlighted why Dortmund spent €20 million to sign him. Right away the Belgium national team player took control of the midfield and then rescued Dortmund in the dying moments by making it 1-1 in the 95th minute. It was precisely the sort of leadership qualities that were lacking last season making Witsel Dortmund’s key signing for the season.
Marcelo Saracchi #3 – RB Leipzig
Leipzig may have struggled against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League playoffs on Thursday. The Uruguayan right-back was aggressive and present on both ends of the pitch justifying the €12 million that RB Leipzig paid to his former club River Plate. With Leipzig still lacking some depth Saracchi’s aggressiveness will be crucial on Sunday against Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig – Match Stats
- Dortmund’s 2-3 defeat to RB Leipzig last season was the beginning of the end for former head coach Peter Bosz, who remained without a victory until being fired after matchday 15.
- RB Leipzig have already played six competitive matches this season (five in the Europa League and one DFB Pokal match).
- Dortmund’s record at home against Leipzig is W1 L1.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig – 3-2
Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig – Lineups
Bürki – Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Schmelzer – Delaney, Witsel – Pulisic, Reus, Wolf – Philipp
Head Coach: Lucien Favre
Gulacsi – Laimer, Mukiele, Upamecano, Saracchi – Demme, Ilsanker – Bruma, Forsberg – Werner, Augustin
Head Coach: Ralf Rangnick
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.