Thursday, June 20, 2024

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Betfair

One of the more interesting matches this weekend in the Bundesliga will see Borussia Dortmund welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday. It will be the 21st game of the 2021-22 league campaign for either side as they strive to achieve their separate goals.

Borussia Dortmund

It must be extremely frustrating for Borussia Dortmund, the board, the staff, but particularly the players and the supporters, to be staring at the back of Bayern Munich year after year. The last time they won the Bundesliga title themselves, twice in a row actually, was in 2010-11 and 2011-12, back in the days when they were led by current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Since then, the trophy has been in the exclusive ownership of the Bavarians.

Therefore, a look at the Bundesliga table right now is hardly surprising; Dortmund are second to Bayern after 20 matches, with 43 points and a six-point deficit to their name.

Over in the Champions League, Dortmund disappointingly finished third in Group C, behind Ajax and Sporting Lisbon. They will consequently continue their European adventure in the Europa League, where they face Scottish champions Rangers in knockout play-offs.

The recent form will, however, be an encouraging factor for Marco Rose’s team at this point, particularly at the Signal Iduna Park. Their last-six record in all competitions consists of a 3-0 home win over Greuther Furth, a 3-2 defeat away to Hertha Berlin, a 2-3 away win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a 5-1 home thrashing of SC Freiburg, a 2-1 defeat away to St. Pauli in the DFB-Pokal round of 16, and a 2-3 win away to Hoffenheim.

One of the biggest issues the club face at the moment is the increasingly likely departure of Erling Haaland at the end of the season. Come the summer, the Norwegian sensation will be able to leave without their consent providing a suitor chooses to trigger his €75m release clause – an absolute bargain given what the market looks like these days. Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of interest from top clubs around Europe for the talents of the 21-year-old striker.

Team News

Speaking of Haaland, the striker who has so far scored 16 goals in just 14 Bundesliga matches this season, will return to action soon following a groin injury, but this match is believed to be coming too soon. In his absence, Donyell Malen is likely to lead the line upfront.

That, however, is not the end of Dortmund’s problems at the moment. Midfielder Emre Can, right-back Mateu Morey and left-back Marcel Schmelzer will certainly sit this one out with various fitness issues. Goalkeepers Roman Burki and Luca Unbehaun, as well as defender Thomas Meunier, are doubts.

Bayer Leverkusen

Sitting third in the league, directly below Dortmund with the tally of 35 points, Bayer Leverkusen can hardly be hoping to be involved in title talk, but they will certainly be happy with finishing inside the top four and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. That, however, is far from certain at the moment, with Union Berlin (34 points), SC Freiburg (33), RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim (both 31) all breathing down their neck and hoping for the same thing.

Having finished top of Group G in the Europa League this season, ahead of Real Betis, Celtic and Ferencvaros, Leverkusen as a seeded team await to find out the name of their opponent in the round of 16 on February 25th, when the draw takes place following the completion of the knockout play-offs.

Leverkusen’s last-six run doesn’t make an encouraging piece of information for their supporters at this point, though the fact that they won the last two may be a sign of better things to come. It starts with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Eintracht in Frankfurt, after which came a 2-2 draw at home against Hoffenheim. Then they lost 2-1 away to Freiburg, and drew 2-2 at home against Union Berlin, before finally winning 1-2 away to Borussia Monchengladbach and thrashing Augsburg 5-1 at home.

Team News

Winger Sardar Azmoun, who joined the club at the end of January, is unlikely to play for his new team just yet. The same goes for defender Edmond Tapsoba, who is yet to return from his exploits at the African Cup of Nations, where his Burkina Faso will face tournament hosts Cameroon for third place on Saturday evening. Backup goalkeeper Andrei Lunev is out with a ligament injury.

Midfielders Julian Baumgartlinger and Exequiel Palacios, as well as winger Paulinho and left-back Daley Sinkgraven, are all doubts.

Kerem Demirbay should, however, return to the midfield ranks after missing the last match through suspension.

Conclusion

At the moment, anything but a Dortmund win would be a surprise in a contest between these two teams. After all, they won the last six matches against this particular opponent at their own ground.

Quite apart from that, Bayern Munich are likely to increase their lead at the top of the table when they face RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, and if Dortmund fail to keep up, the race for the title would most likely be over already.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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