Dortmund are on a roll entering Wednesday’s fixture, having won six matches and drawn twice in the Bundesliga, including Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Stuttgart, and are 2-0-0 in Champions League Group A. A positive result Wednesday will only improve the team’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, something they failed miserably to do last year.
While we’ve been flying high and scoring at will, we will be without some key players on Wednesday inside the Westfalenstadion. It was reported that Paco Alcácer wasn’t at training today as he continues to deal with “muscular problems,” while players such as Manuel Akanji (hip) and Marcel Schmelzer (knee) will also miss tomorrow’s action. The backline of Piz-Diallo-Zagadou-Hakimi has played fine in their absence, but they’ll be up against a real test tomorrow.
This was released before it was known that Paco missed training, otherwise it’s a damn-good lineup. Starting Sancho over Pulisic on the right wing is a wise move, as Sancho has been electric this season and Pulisic is still coming back from an injury that kept him out of the Augsburg match and the USA friendlies. JBL’s fine form is keeping him locked into that starting spot on the left, and Reus has been great orchestrating the attack from the middle of it all. The central midfield pairing of Witsel and Delaney has been solid, as each one fills a specific need in the midfield. That backline will be tested but should fair well, and Bürki has been playing some of the best football of his career this season and that should continue.
However, just because Atléti aren’t scoring much this season (15 combined goals this season) doesn’t mean they’re not capable of lighting up the scoreboard. They boast two of the best scorers in the world in their starting XI in Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann, who’s older than I thought he was, has only scored twice since winning the World Cup this summer, while Costa is still nursing a hamstring injury that’s kept him out of the last two matches for Los Rojiblancos. Even if he’s unlikely to play, Dortmund still needs to be wary of him in case he does. Add in players like Thomas Lemar and Ángel Correa, and Atléti have one hell of an attacking lineup. Their defense shouldn’t be overlooked, either, with players like José Giménez and Lucas Hernández manning the center and Jan Oblak in goal.
Prediction: 1-0 Win
As good as we’ve been this season, this was always going to be one of our biggest tests. Having this match at home is a big help, and I think a late Marco Reus goal (assisted by Sancho) will put us firmly at the top of the group, almost guaranteeing us of qualifying to the next round of the Champions League. The key to this match will be if we can contain Costa and Griezmann; do that, and we should win.