Borussia Dortmund is desperate to get back on track as they face a midweek battle with Apoel Nicosia. The teams met two weeks ago in Cyprus, playing to a 1-1 draw.
Dortmund has dropped consecutive contests to Hannover and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga amidst their longest slump of the year. Apoel is also riding a two-game domestic winless streak, falling to AEK Larnaca and drawing Ethnikos Achnas.
What to Watch for: Advantageous offense
Apoel hasn’t been getting many attacking chances during Champions League matches this season. But when presented with a chance to score, Apoel usually makes the most of it by generating a quality chance.
In their match against Dortmund, Apoel’s loan goal came off a defensive error when Roman Burki spilled a pair of shots ending up in an empty-net goal for the hosts. But Apoel came close to scoring in their match against Tottenham earlier in UCL play. Serge Aurier tripped attempting to make a defensive clearance, leading to a chance Igor de Camargo which he blasted off the post.
Real Madrid almost completely limited Apoel’s quality chances, leading to a simple victory. Dortmund will need to do the same in order to earn its first Champions League victory of the season.
Key to the Game: Get between the center backs
In each of Apoel’s three games this season, goals have been scored off aerial balls into the box sent in between the two center backs. Again in the Tottenham game, Harry Kane scored his third goal of the contest on a goal like this and Son Heung-min had a chance to score a similar goal early in the match.
Borussia Dortmund exploited this weakness when Sokratis scored his goal. When Dortmund attacked through the middle, Apoel tended to open up more than when Dortmund tried generating offense from the wings. The final chance of the game showed promise despite coming up empty. Dortmund utilized its speed through the middle of the field as a cross was fought off by the keeper before the rebound was skied over the bar.
Dortmund should try to attack quickly down the middle by finding space between the centerbacks to attack.
Player to Watch: Lorenzo Ebicilio
The Dutchman caused Dortmund problems during his time on the field. Although Mikael Pote scored the goal for Apoel versus BVB, it was Ebicilio who created the chance by remaining alert. Ebicilio is a clinical attacking midfield who can not only move the ball well, but gets into positions to attack.
- Formation: 4-2-3-1
- Goalkeeper: Raul Gudino
- Defenders: Zhivko Milanov, Jesus Rueda, Giorgios Merkis, Nektarios Alexandrou
- Midfielders: Nuno Morais, Vinicius; Efstathios Aloneftis, Roland Sallai, Lorenzo Ebicilio
- Forward: Igor de Camargo
Prediction: Dortmund 4-1
“Alright, enough playing around.” - Peter Bosz, probably censored
Dortmund are back home and are looking for a bit of pay back to prove it belongs in the Champions League knockout stage. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang needs to have a big game while Christian Pulisic will make a bigger impact than he did in his cameo back in Cyprus.