Borussia Dortmund kicks off the 2017/18 Bundesliga season on the road against Vfl Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg enters the first match with a case of the injury bug, as both starting center-backs, both backup right-backs, and a pair of midfielders will be sidelined to start the season.
What To Watch For: Midfield Buildup
Wolfsburg’s new found depth in the midfield will be tested right off the bat as Dortmund’s defense struggled on the road last season on the road. Wolfsburg added the likes of Paul-Georges Ntep, Yunus Malli, and Jakub Blaszczykowski last season and the crew of new additions will get a shot to impress in year two. Dortmund will need to make it a priority to stop Wolfsburg from generating offense out of the midfield by shutting down the wingers and attacking midfielders. Limiting turnovers to defensive midfielders will also prevent Wolfsburg from pivoting into a counter-attack mode.
Key to the Game: Attack The Middle
With injuries piling up at center-back for Wolfsburg, Dortmund will need to find a way through Wolfsburg’s weakened defense. With a new defensive midfielder thrown into the mix, Dortmund will need to take advantage of Wolfsburg’s early-season kinks by finding seems between the defensive midfielders and making runs to push the backup central defenders to their limits.
Player to Watch: Yunus Malli
The vivacious attacking midfielder is prone to make dangerous runs as well as create offense by freeing up space for other midfielders and strikers. He will by far be the most dangerous weapon for Wolfsburg this weekend as he can stretch play out to the wings to force defenders out of position.
Formation - 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Koen Casteels
Defenders: Paul Verhaegh, Robin Knoche, Felix Uduokhai, Yannick Gerhardt
Midfielders: Joshua Guilavogui, Ignacio Camacho; Yunus Malli, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Daniel Didavi
Striker: Mario Gomez
Prediction: Dortmund wins 3-1
A similar scoreline as last’s season opening match against Mainz, Dortmund should scrape past Wolfsburg, adding a third goal this year towards the end of the game. With both of Wolfsburg’s starting center-backs injured, Dortmund should have free reign to attack through the middle as the game progresses and will slot three past the hosts.