Manuel Veth –
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Sunday, February 24, 17:00GMT/18:00CET – SIGNAL IDUNA Park, Dortmund, Germany
Borussia Dortmund are in mini-crisis mode. Winless in five games their lead over Bayern München has disappeared to just three points. Three consecutive draws in the Bundesliga and defeats in the DFB Pokal to Werder Bremen and in the Champions League to Tottenham, where Dortmund are all but eliminated after conceding three unanswered goals.
The source of the crisis in many ways is the injury to playmaker and captain Marco Reus. Dortmund were hopeful that the attacking midfielder would return from his minor muscle injury ahead of the game against Leverkusen. But Reus was unable to train this week and together with Lukasz Piszczek will miss the game against former head coach Peter Bosz.
With Reus in the squad, Borussia Dortmund have collected 2.01 points since he joined the club from Gladbach, without him just 1.69. The difference is even more significant this season, with Reus in the squad Dortmund have collected 2.42 points and without him just 1.69 points.
“Every team is dependent on their key player,” CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said to the media this week. “When Barcelona are without Messi they also struggle,” and “Real Madrid also didn’t lose to Girona with Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad last season,” Watzke added.
Hence, without Reus in the squad, Borussia Dortmund will have to rely on the likes of Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Guerreiro to get the job done against a Bayer Leverkusen side coached by their former coach Peter Bosz.
Three weeks ago Bosz did Borussia Dortmund a big favour by beating their rivals Bayern München 3-1. But now he could become a major roadblock on Dortmund’s road to the championship. But Leverkusen are not without worries either, kicked out of the Europa League by Krasnodar Leverkusen are missing key player Karim Bellarabi in this match.
In fact, minor injuries has become a major concern in Leverkusen due to Bosz’s style of football. Bayer already covered the most kilometres in the league under former coach Heiko Herrlich, under Bosz that number has increased another four kilometres per game on average and have also completed 38 more sprints on average under the new coach.
Injuries were already a problem in Dortmund, but Bosz was unwilling to change his style. Now injury worries and an overplayed squad could become a concern once again given Leverkusen’s busy schedule. Dortmund, in the meantime, will be well rested and might meet Leverkusen at just the right time to end their poor run of results.
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Jadon Sancho #7 – Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho has been in the news this week. The English winger’s transfer to Manchester City has come under scrutiny following an investigation by the German magazine Der Spiegel. According to the magazine, Football Leaks documents show that Manchester City have violated rules by paying a significant sum of money for the then 14-year-old winger to bring him to their academy. What impact the news will have on Sancho remains to be seen, but Dortmund will hope that it will not take the focus of the Sunday game in which Sancho will once again be a key figure as Marco Reus will miss the game with an injury.
Julian Brandt #10 – Bayer Leverkusen
It is remarkable to think that Brandt is still only 22 years old given the enormous interest in him, and yet he remains a fulcrum of Leverkusen’s attacking structure. Naturally a left winger, in recent games he has been deployed as a number eight in midfield. His qualities as a wide player have been used to blistering effect in his new role. “You know Julian is a pacey player; he can score, he can give assists,” said Leon Bailey of his teammate after the thrashing of Mainz two weeks ago. “He is a great player,” added Bosz. “He needs to have the ball, he rarely loses the ball.” If Krasnodar want to stifle their illustrious hosts, suffocating Brandt would be a great place to start.
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Dortmund have won only one of the three league matches 13-goal captain Reus has missed this season, drawing the other two.
- BVB have failed to score just twice in the league this season – in goalless draws against the current bottom two, Hannover and Nürnberg.
- Leverkusen are the Bundesliga’s form team in 2019, with 12 points from a possible 15, 13 goals scored and only three conceded.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Dortmund vs Leverkusen – 2-0
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Lineups
Bürki – Schmelzer, Akanji, Zagadou, Hakimi – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Philipp, Guerreiro – Götze
Head Coach: Lucien Favre
Hradecky – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger – Havertz, Aranguiz – Brandt, Volland, Bailey
Head Coach: Peter Bosz
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. 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.