Manuel Veth –
Dortmund vs Leipzig – Tuesday, December 17, 19:30GMT/20:30CET – SIGNAL IDUNA Park, Dortmund, Germany
The Black and Yellows are once again firing out of all cylinders. On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund smashed 1.FSV Mainz 4-0 on the road in a game that could have easily ended with a bigger margin.
“We knew that Mainz were going to open up after the break, so we made great use of it,” Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl said after the game. “This win has motivated us for the final two.”
It is remarkable how Lucien Favre has turned around his fortune at Dortmund. A simple tweak, away from a defensively oriented 4-2-3-1 to a more attacking-minded 3-4-3, has given Dortmund a completely different look. The formation allows Dortmund to utilize new signing Julian Brandt and at the same time, also compensates for the absence of a more natural number 9.
That role is currently taken up by Marco Reus. Reus is given a free role in the new formation. The attacking midfielder almost floats between the lines, which allows Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard to rotate their positions on the wing freely.
The front three have already combined for 23 goals and 24 assists this season. A tremendous output, nonetheless, Dortmund would like to add another attacking player in the form of Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Haaland this winter. Haaland was already in Dortmund this week to visit the club and look at the facilities.
Dortmund, however, are not the only German club interested. Their opponents RB Leipzig are also interested in signing the Norwegian, and before visiting Dortmund on Wednesday, Haaland also spent two hours in Leipzig to speak to head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
“We showed Erling Haaland what we can offer him and what his role will be,” RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krösche said to kicker. “The rest will be up to him.”
Whether Leipzig truly need Haaland is another question. The Red Bulls have been in fantastic form and after six wins in a row, and Gladbach’s last-minute defeat to Wolfsburg, are first in the Bundesliga. Striker Timo Werner has been in particular good for scoring 16 goals in 15 Bundesliga games, just two less than Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
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On Saturday against Fortuna Düsseldorf, there was never any doubt that Leipzig would walk away with three points. Yet for Nagelsmann, the game was far from perfection. “We missed a few chances in the first half,” Nagelsmann said after the game. “We controlled the game really well in the second. These are three very important points. We were able to hold something back at the end with Tuesday’s big game in mind.”
The fact that Leipzig were able to “hold something back” is a scary prospect given their ruthless efficiency. At the same time, Dortmund have also been lethal in front of the goal.
This should be a fascinating encounter that is a battle for the top of the table, Haaland’s signature, but also a clash of cultures between traditional Dortmund supporters and up-starts Leipzig. In the end, details will decide a game that should have plenty of goals in stock.
Dortmund vs Leipzig – Players to look out for:
Dan-Axel Zagadou #2 – Borussia Dortmund
Dan-Axel Zagadou has been immense for Dortmund in recent weeks. Despite his height of 196cm, Zagadou is immensely fast and was clocked at 32.2 km/h against Mainz on Saturday. The 20-year-old has also won 79.3% of his duels this season, an impressive number for a defender. Sporting director Michael Zorc described Zagadou as a “diamond in the rough” this week. For the head coach, Lucien Favre, Zagadou is already crucial, the 20-year-old’s form has allowed the Swiss coach to switch his formation to 3-4-3. A switch that turned around Dortmund’s fortunes this season.
Patrik Schick #21 – RB Leipzig
Patrik Schick had a difficult start at RB Leipzig. But players, in general, need time to adapt to Nagelsmann’s difficult style of football. The forward seems to have finally arrived in Leipzig. On loan from Roma, the 23-year-old striker has scored two goals and one assist in his last three Bundesliga games. For Nagelsmann, Schick seems to be currently the perfect partner for Timo Werner but it will be interesting to see how the potential arrival of Haaland will impact his performance.
Dortmund vs Leipzig – Match Stats
- Dortmund won home and away against Leipzig last season, having recorded one win in their first four top-flight meetings with the Saxony club.
- BVB captain Reus is unbeaten in his three meetings with Leipzig (W2, D1), and also scored in each of last season’s two fixtures.
- Nagelsmann has never won in Dortmund as a Bundesliga coach (D1, L3).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Dortmund vs Leipzig – 2-2
Dortmund vs Leipzig – Lineups
Bürki – Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou – Hakimi, Weigl, Brandt, Guerreiro – Hazard, Reus, Sancho
Head Coach: Lucien Favre
Gulacsi – Mukiele, Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg – Demme, Laimer – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Werner, Schick
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com 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. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.