Despite the risk of sounding like a broken record player: Borussia Dortmund have not had the most favorable week. Although we got a favorable draw against Sevilla FC in the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, the 1:1 draw against FC Cologne on Saturday was like an unfavorable headache refusing to go away. At 8 points behind Bayern Munich (and RB Leipzig), an away-win against 1899 Hoffenheim is absolutely a necessary result to stay in contention for the 2016/2017 Bundesliga season. First things first, here’s the possible lineup:
Echoing Tuchel’s press-conference: we’ve got a lot of injuries in key parts of the pitch. Unfortunately, Piszczek, Castro, Bartra, and Sokratis all picked up injuries in last week. Guerreiro trained with the first-team on Wednesday, but he’s still not match-fit for the game tomorrow. Shinji is also still recovering from the ankle injury he picked up earlier this season.
On the opposing bench, Hoffenheim are missing three key players in Kerem Bemirbay (offensive midfielder with a handful of goals this season), Kevin Vogt (defensive midfielder brought at the beginning of this season from Bayer Leverurkusen), and Sebastian Rudy (that guy who keeps getting called up to Jögi Löw’s national team, despite everyone not really understanding why…)
Under the prodigal son, Julian Nagelsmann (29 years old) -who learned his craft under Tuchel at FC Augsburg II during 2007-2008 -Hoffenheim are still unbeaten in this year’s Bundesliga season. Most notably, they were able to hold Bayern Munich at a 1:1 draw in matchweek 10, despite playing away in Munich. But, at the same time, Hoffenheim went on to draw 2:2 at home against Hamburg SV, who is quite possibly the worst team in the league.
Their current position of 4th place makes Hoffenheim look like a strong team, but a closer examination of their current form entering the Winter Break, and tomorrow’s game, reveals something different. They’ve drawn 4 out of their last 5 games. They play quite an attacking team, like Dortmund, but again, the first line of defense, in the form of Vogt and Rudy, is also missing. For the likes of Auba and a newly rejuvenated Marco Reus, this should be a wonderful opportunity to run against the opposition players and really make them work.
If Ginter and Bender figure out their partnership in the middle of the defense, then that will open up the chance for Schmelzer and Passlack to also push up the field. One can imagine BVB really attacking Hoffeheim quite hard in the opening minutes of the game. Still, that’s a really big if: Tuchel will surely be aware that Ginter and Bender are not the most reliable center-backs, so he’ll probably recommend more defensive cover. So overall, it’ll be a tough game away for Dortmund, considering our injuries and our current yo-yo form. But, considering our opposition’s current form as well, we should be able to squeeze out a win.