Chris Williams –
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday, September 14, 14:30BST/15:30CEST – SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, Dortmund, Germany
Dortmund vs Leverkusen signals an intriguing meeting Saturday afternoon. Peter Bosz returns to the Westfalenstadion seeking an improvement on last season’s narrow defeat, while Lucien Favre will be hoping the wheels can be reattached to his Borussen chariot after a spectacular defeat to Union Berlin on Matchday Four.
If a team ever needed the international break then it was Borussia Dortmund. Favre’s side was picked apart in dramatic fashion at newly-promoted Union Berlin last time out – after a less than convincing win at Köln seven days earlier.
The arrival of Bayer Leverkusen could be a blessing in disguise, the Yellow and Blacks are unbeaten in their last five Bundesliga meetings against their North Rhine-Westphalia neighbours. However, the last two fixtures have been close affairs – with Dortmund ultimately (if not nervously) hanging on to take all three points.
After a summer of strengthening there was a thought that die Schwarzgelben would immediately lay claim to their first Meisterschale in eight years – however, nervous moments against Augsburg were further heightened in Köln before reality bit at Union as the title favourites were brushed aside with relative ease.
Worrying reports in Germany over the international beak suggest that not all is well in Westfalenhallen. Summer recruits brought in to shore up the defence weren’t said to be Favre’s choice, while senior players are rumoured to be frustrated at the lack of rotation within the squad.
Michael Zorc probably captured it best at Thursday’s Pressekonferenz: “That we have to live with criticism is normal, but we must deal with it professionally – the best answer, win” the Sport Director said.
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Peter Bosz travells to Dortmund with his Leverkusen side ahead of their hosts in the Bundesliga table, something the Dutch coach will be keen to see continued come full-time.
A dull nil-nil draw against Hoffenheim on Matchday Three took the shine off the Werkself’s opening two victories, but a return to winning ways on Saturday would set up a positive return to the Champions League – as Leverkusen return to the top table after a two-season absence.
Despite losing one of his best players in the closed season to Dortmund, Bosz has been able to continue his firebrand style of football. Critics will point to Levekusen’s inability at times to see games though, but on 2019/20’s showing, it looks like the problems of last season may have been rectified.
The arrival of Kerem Demirbay, Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri have bolstered a squad that already includes one of the hottest youth prospects in Europe. Early wobbles against Paderborn were soon rectified and the following 135 minutes of football marked out the BayArena club as genuine top-four contenders once again.
Saturday offers a real opportunity for a rejuvenated Leverkusen to heap more misery on Bosz’s old club. If the Werkself can find the small details that escaped then in the two prior meetings, then anything is possible – which Sven Bender highlighted Thursday to Kicker:
“These games are all about the little things – as you saw last season, even if you play really well, there is no guarantee that you will win. That is the worst thing about football but it is also the best – everyone has the chance to win, even if it’s not their best day.”
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Julian Brandt #19 – Borussia Dortmund
The 23-year-old will take to the field for the first time against his former club this weekend. The winger spent five and a half years at the BayArena, donning the red and black jersey on 215 occasions – scoring 42 goals and assisting a further 51.
His arrival at Dortmund gives Favre’s side an extra depth in an area that is already blessed. The summer signing’s introduction at Köln changed the game, resulting in victory. Strong with the ball at his feet he is also capable of linking up with those around to deadly effect – the Bremen born midfielder also knows where the net is, giving him an all-round strength to his game.
Kai Havertz #29 – Bayer Leverkusen
The 20-year-old is perhaps the hottest name in European football currently, attracting the attention of clubs across the entire continent. From Germany to Spain, via England – the attacking midfielder tops the list of many club’s summer thinking.
For now, his mind is fully committed to the Leverkusen cause and with two goals in the opening four fixtures, his feet can also pay testament to this. A bonafide threat on the counter, his ability will test a Dormiund side opened up at regular intervals this season – his end product also matches his build-up play, a true ‘one to watch’ in this fixture.
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Dortmund holds the advantage when it comes to their results at home against Leverkusen in the Bundesliga – P40, W21, D22, L9
- Leverkusen haven’t beaten Dortmund in their last six encounters, a run that stretches back to October 2016
- Julian Brandt faces his old club just eight weeks after leaving and Peter Bosz returns to his former home for only the second time
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Dortmund vs Leverkusen – 3-3
Dortmund vs Leverkusen – Lineups
Bürki – Piszczek, Weigl, Hummels, Hakimi – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Reus, Brandt – Alcacer
Head Coach: Lucien Favre
Hradecky – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aranguiz – Havertz, Demirbay – Bellarabi, Volland, Bailey
Head Coach: Peter Bosz
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams