BORUSSIA DORTMUND VS HOFFENHEIM
Borussia Dortmund host TSG Hoffenheim in the opening match of matchday three in the Bundesliga. Both teams had less than stellar performances last week and will be looking to bounce back immediately.
The Black and Yellows were humbled 2-1 away from home to SC Freiburg. Despite dominating the stats column with 76% possession and with 18 shots as compared to eight for the hosts, they were trailing 2-0 even before the hour mark. An own-goal from their opponents helped to halve the deficit but Marco Rose’s side had no further response.
'ave it! pic.twitter.com/SlQWBrAugw
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) August 25, 2021
After the highs of beating Frankfurt 5-2 to kick-off the season, this was a stark reminder that this season will be another fight. Can Erling Braut Haaland get back to his firing ways with Rose stressing on how they need to take their chances better against the upcoming opposition?
Sebastian Hoeness’ team had a better weekend but not by much. After scoring twice to overcome an early deficit against Union Berlin, they allowed the capital side to draw level as it finished 2-2. Hoffenheim had their own big win on opening day as they thrashed Augsburg 4-0 but will know that challenges persist if they are to target a top-six finish.
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@tsghoffenheimEN) August 25, 2021
Though they have a number of key members out with injury, Hoeness is focused on stopping their famed opponents while looking for win number two of the season. He has spoken on the importance of winning the second balls and being intelligent with possession, things which will certainly be tested against Dortmund.
Dortmund are without the services of Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz while Marcel Schmelzer has just rejoined training.
🎙 Marco Rose:
"With Hoffenheim, you can see a clear process. They have a lot of quality, especially offensively. We have to defend against this team well and in return, we want to make the most of our chances – better than in Freiburg." pic.twitter.com/KzEboBy7LG
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) August 26, 2021
Dan-Axel Zagadou remains a long term absentee while Axel Witsel’s started in defence last time. It remains to be seen whether that continues.
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Kobel; Passlack, Hummels, Akanji, Guerreiro; Dahoud, Bellingham, Brandt, Reus; Malen, Haaland
Hoeness has a bigger injury list as he detailed in his press conference before the match. Benjamin Hubner, Ermin BicakcicHavard Nordveit, Ilhas Bebou (training) are all out of the reckoning.
"We will try to break up the waves of Dortmund attacks, win the second balls and successfully hit them on the counter. To do that, we need to be courageous and alert."
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@tsghoffenheimEN) August 26, 2021
The fitness of Pavel Kaderabek and Florian Grillitsch will be assessed before the match.
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Baumann; Akpoguma, Posch, Vogt, Raum; Baumgartner, Rudy, Stiller, Larsen; Dabbur, Kramaric
It is hard to overstate the importance of Haaland in this Dortmund team. Out of the five goals against Frankfurt, the Norwegian forward had two goals and two assists. When he goes quiet, it seems as if the whole team are in need of a lift which was evident last weekend.
Coming to this Friday’s match up with Hoffenheim, it was clear by how much Hoeness stressed the need to stop Haaland that a lot of attention will be focused on him.
Erling Haaland vs Frankfurt:
He was involved in all five Dortmund goals this evening. 👏 pic.twitter.com/xNTWka4T7J
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) August 14, 2021
Haaland will need to be marked closely in midfield itself because if he gets in a footrace with the back-line, there will only be one winner.
Furthermore, Haaland’s propensity to drop deep and collect the ball himself can also draw out defenders which can leave empty spaces in behind. His running is excellent and that will restrict the attack-minded players like Baumgartner and Rudy who will have to do a lot of defensive work as well.
Erling Haaland makes the run in-behind Frankfurt’s defence but realises the CB is stepping up to play offside, so he angles his run to the left to stay onside & score.
Good example of why it’s not just his athleticism that makes him lethal, it’s the intelligence of his movement. pic.twitter.com/egeQuVxcTW
— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) August 17, 2021
For Hoffenheim, along with the ever present threat of Andrej Kramaric, Danish winger Jacob Bruun Larsen has been in fine form. Along with netting against Augsburg after his return from a loan spell, Larsen also scored the second goal for his side last weekend.
The winger has been well praised by his manager due to his work-rate and his skill on the ball which will be a cause of concern for Dortmund.
— Faisal HQ (@iF2is) August 22, 2021
Up against one of Emre Can or Felix Passlack, he will be able to get by on pace and the fact that the fullbacks like to push forward will further help his cause. Dortmund play a diamond shape in midfield which means that one of the central players will have to come to the left in order to lessen the impact of Larsen.
"@jacobruunlarsen has immense pace, is a top finisher and is great on the ball. He performs his role well and his actions make sense."
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@tsghoffenheimEN) August 26, 2021
If he gets by Dortmund’s press, Larsen has enough trickery and technical skills to beat the centre-backs and get his shot away which will be something Rose pays close attention to.
The two teams are pretty evenly matched as evidenced by their recent form and it will be tough to pick a winner based on the squads only. It might take a few moments of magic to separate the two teams on the night. FootTheBall predicts a 3-2 win for Dortmund.