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Opposition Analysis: Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig

Two of the Bundesliga’s best do battle

1. FC Koeln v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images

At long last, the October International Break has come to an end and Bundesliga soccer is back with bang as Borussia Dortmund hosts RB Leipzig looking to stay unbeaten in league play. Dortmund entered the break off a 2-1 nail-biting victory over Augsburg. RB Leipzig also won 2-1, holding on to beat FC Koln.

What to Watch for: Striker-dependent offense

The RB Leipzig offense relies wholly on getting the ball to one of the strikers in the box. Timo Werner has proven he fits perfectly into this system and Jean-Kevin Augustin is adapting well so far. When one of Leipzig’s strikers receives the ball in the box, it spells crisis for opposing defenses.

That is, if Leipzig can get their strikers the ball.

When Leipzig is unsuccessful in mounting this type of attack, it becomes a shoot-first-pass-later mentality, usually resulting in a distance shooting extravaganza. In Leipzig’s recent Champions League match against Besiktas, Leipzig had issues connecting passes into the box, resulting in numerous shots being taken from outside the box. Dortmund will need to be alert to this multi-faceted attack.

Key to the Game: Center-back struggles

Most of the goals RB Leipzig has conceded have come as a result of one or both of their center-backs being beaten. In their match against Besiktas, the great Ryan Babel (of whom I actually own a jersey) was left unmarked inside the penalty area and Anderson Talisca was able to finesse his way in front of a defender to head home a low cross.

In trying to stop opposing strikers, RB Leipzig has been succeptible to either getting in each other’s way or conceding a penalty — both common occurrences. In their opening day defeat to Schalke, Leipzig conceded from the spot and also over-pursued, leaving Yehven Konoplyanka free to slot home an easy shot.

Dortmund is fast enough to exploit RB Leipzig’s weak defense, and can do so by spreading its wingers out further to leave ample space for Aubameyang in the middle.

Player to Watch: Kevin Kampl

Having just joined RB Leipzig this season, Dortmund know full well how good Kevin Kampl can be. From his production with Dortmund to his dangerous playmaking against BVB while with Leverkusen, Kampl has been a force in the Bundesliga for some time. Kampl not only possesses speed but also has an awareness that allows him to make plays very quickly. Around such players as Timo Werner, Jean-Kevin Augustin, Emil Forsberg, and Bruma, Kampl has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal.

Projected Lineup

  • Formation: 4-2-2-2
  • Goalkeeper: Peter Gulacsi
  • Defenders: Bernardo, Dayot Upamecano, Lukas Klostermann, Marcel Halstenburg
  • Midfielders: Naby Keita, Bruma, Kevin Kampl, Emil Forsberg
  • Forwards: Jean-Kevin Augustin, Marcel Sabitzer

Prediction: Dortmund 2-0

Timo Werner is a big question mark for this weekend and while the Leipzig midfield is one of the most dynamic in the Bundesliga, their defense has proven to be vulnerable and might have trouble containing Dortmund’s breakout style for a full 90 minutes.