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Opposition Analysis: Borussia Dortmund vs FC Koln

Bundesliga table-toppers host the bottom-dwellers

Arsenal FC v 1. FC Koeln - UEFA Europa League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

It’s been a rough start to the 2017-18 season for FC Koln. Winless in its first three matches, the Billy Goats are in desperation mode as they look to reverse their fortunes against Borussia Dortmund. Koln has scored only once this season while conceding seven times for a league-worst -6 goal difference.

What to Watch for: Counter-attack, quick-strike offense

Most of what little offense Koln has generated this season has come as the result of a counter attack. In the club’s 1-0 defeat to Monchengladbach this season, Jhon Cordoba had a couple of chances to score. When opponents are complacent against Koln, the Billy Goats are quick to jump at the chance. Although they haven’t exactly capitalized this season, Koln’s pace has caught opponents off-guard and could eventually result in goals.

Key to the Game: Victimize Koln’s center backs

Much of the opposing offense against FC Koln this season has occurred through in the center of the field. Poor marking from Koln’s center backs has been frequent this season, leading to something-out-of-nothing goals on shots from distances, bad touches, and even throw ins. Dortmund will need to find a way to play through the middle, which isn’t a problem when you have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.

In Koln’s match against Augsburg this season, both goals allowed by Koln are a microcosm of their struggling defense this season. A throw in which resulted in a quick cross that was defended poorly gave Augsburg it’s first goal. The second came via the penalty spot but resulted from a poor touch by Augsburg’s Marcel Heller that Jonas Hector couldn’t deal with. Hector, dragged into the middle thanks to a misplaced center back, ended up fouling Heller in an attempt to clear his lines.

At times this season, particularly against Hamburger SV, Koln’s defense has emanated the Bad News Bears with poor, haphazard clearance attempts that result in turnovers within the the penalty area. Koln’s defense is simply not quick enough to keep up with high-end forwards in the Bundesliga.

Player to Watch: Jhon Cordoba

If there’s been any bright spot to the otherwise dismal season FC Koln is having, it has been the play of Jhon Cordoba. Coming over from Mainz in the offseason, Cordoba has had an instantly positive impact, scoring a wonder strike against Arsenal in Europa League play on Thursday. Though he has yet to open his Bundesliga account for the season, his speed is deceptive and his finishing ability is top-notch. Dortmund’s battered defense will have to find a way to limit his chances.

Projected Lineup:

  • Formation: 4-4-2
  • Goalkeeper: Timo Horn
  • Defenders: Jonas Hector, Frederik Sorensen, Dominique Heintz, Lukas Klunter
  • Midfielders: Leonardo Bittencourt, Matthias Lehmann, Marco Hoger, Simon Zoller
  • Forwards: Jhon Cordoba, Yuya Osako

Prediction: 3-0 Dortmund

FC Koln are still looking to find its identity while Borussia Dortmund is hoping to bounce back from a 0-0 draw at Freiburg and a midweek loss at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. Even with an injury-riddled defense, Dortmund’s attack and possession football should be enough to overwhelm the visitors. Two goals for Aubameyang at the very least.