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VfL Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund: Key Matchups

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A dance with wolves

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v VfL Wolfsburg - Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund hits the pitch on Tuesday for a midweek match with defensive juggernaut VfL Wolfsburg.

It was a memorable last seven days for BVB as they won a pair of matches by the same 6-0 scoreline; Legia Warsaw in the Champions League and Darmstadt.

While the floodgates have opened significantly for Dortmund, Wolfsburg has yet to concede in league play this season. Additionally, the Wolves have only scored twice in the league and none so far in September.

Wolfsburg are coming off a 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim where despite ample chances, the Wolves were repeatedly denied by Oliver Baumann and the woodwork.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Stout defensive posture

No kidding, right? Wolfsburg has clearly made a living this season off defending. The backline is looking confident after three consecutive clean sheets to open the season. Goalkeeper Koen Casteels has also looked sharp through his first three games. Dortmund was frustrated by Leipzig’s defenders attacking the ball in Week 2. Similarly, Wolfsburg will be aggressive and will make the finding a breakthrough difficult for Dortmund.

KEY TO THE GAME: Quick counter-attacks and set pieces

In Wolfsburg’s last match against Hoffenheim, marking in two particular situations was particularly sloppy. On set pieces, Hoffenheim’s Sandro Wagner was left unmarked on a couple of occasions, nearly heading home a goal. Counter-attacks also left the Wolves looking desperate defensively. Dortmund will be expected to hold the majority of possession and will need to find ways to get numbers in attack against a Wolfsburg’s high-line of defense.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Mario Gomez

In his return stint to the Bundesliga, Gomez has yet to find the back of the net. But he has easily been the most threatening player for Wolfsburg during the past two weeks. It’s only a matter of time before he begins capitalizing on his abundance of chance. Dortmund need to make sure his first goal waits another week.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

  • Formation: 4-2-3-1
  • Goalkeeper: Koen Casteels
  • Defense: Ricardo Rodriguez, Robin Knoche, Philipp Wollscheid, Vieirinha
  • Midfielders: Yannick Gerhardt, Daniel Caligiuri; Maximilian Arnold, Julian Draxler, Jakub Blaszczykowski
  • Forward: Mario Gomez

PREDICTION: Dortmund 1-0

Dortmund will eventually find a breakthrough against Wolfsburg but it won’t be as quick as their match against Darmstadt. Patience will be key in this one and sharp passing during build-ups will lead to attacking opportunities. Wolfsburg looked threatening, but didn’t do enough to score against Hoffenheim and a Koln side with its third-string goalkeeper starting. Dortmund’s defense will be up to the task, but it will be a tough night for BVB nonetheless.