Borussia Dortmund will take on FC Augsburg tomorrow evening in the final game of the year 2016. The Hinrunde will officially close with gameday 16, scheduling issues have made it so that the actual halfway point of the season which is matchday 17 will be played in January.
The black and yellows will look to set a new BVB-record with no Bundesliga losses at home in the year 2016 and more importantly finish the year with a win and three points.
Augsburg is a tough opponent that oftentimes plays with a stingy defense that is difficult to overcome. Nevertheless it is difficult to foresee how Augsburg will position themselves tactically because in a surprise move they sacked their coach Dirk Schuster last week for new coach Manuel Baum. GM Stefan Reuter who is an ex-BVB player justified the move with "different views on how to move forward with the team". While the team is in the lower region of the table, sitting in 12th place, this still came as a surprise move considering the fact that Augsburg was expected to battle relegation.
Newly appointed coach Manuel Baum is relatively unknown with Augsburg being his first Bundesliga club. In the pre-game press conference Thomas Tuchel acknowledged as much saying that it is difficult to predict how they'll play but that he expects them to play more of a reactionary game, meaning that they'll probably copy what other teams have done against BVB, sit deep and hit Dortmund on the counter.
Both teams are having injury problems right now and probably look forward to the winter-break to get healthy. Baum will have to do without players like Bobadilla, Finnbogason, Max, Caiuby and Callsen-Bracker, all of them are usually shoe-ins for the starting eleven. On the other hand the situation in Dortmund is not much better. Tuchel confirmed that Durm, Castro and Dembélé will be ready for the game but there is still a long list of players that will miss the game: Bürki, Subotic, Sokratis, Sahin, Guerreiro, Piszczek and Rode.
The team will also be without Marco Reus who is suspended for one game because of the red card in the Hoffenheim game. During the press conference Tuchel (rightfully) claimed that it is an absolute travesty that an incorrect decision like this will not be reversed but rather made worse because now Reus will miss another game because of it.
In the last home game of the year we can expect to see familiar tactics used by the opponent. Augsburg will no doubt park the bus and hope that they can hurt Dortmund on the counter or through set-pieces. BVB will absolutely have to avoid individual mistakes and prevent to concede first, a task that they didn't manage in six consecutive games now. One way to do this is by avoiding easy mistakes in midfield. Julian Weigl will need help from whoever plays next to him to escape the press and ensure that we don't lose possession of the ball.
When asked about his Christmas-wish during the press conference Tuchel replied with "a win" before following it up with "and no injuries" so let's all hope that he gets his wish. Dortmund really need to get to the winter break with a good result and possibly get on a roll once all the players are back for the Rückrunde.