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Match Preview: Borussia Dortmund hosts RB Leipzig in Bundesliga season opener

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Nothing like kicking off the season against a tough opponent.

Atalanta v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Europa League Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

This Sunday, Lucien Favre and Co. will finally show fans what type of football they will be seeing at the Westfalonstadion for the foreseeable future. Anticipation for this season has been building for days, weeks, or maybe even months. A win against the much-hated Red Bull RasenBallsport Leipzig is the exact type of morale boost that Favre needs to get the fans behind him.

Dortmund fans have seen 5 managers in the past few years, from Jürgen Klopp to current man Lucien Favre, and if they are anything like me, they want to see the club have a good sense of direction. Now I’m not expecting anything amazing from Favre’s first game with Dortmund, especially against a good team like Leipzig, but like I said, a win would do a lot of good around the Dortmund camp and help convince fans that the club is coming out of what many would consider a banter era.

Attack

The Red Bulls have a formidable attack when the players are actually performing. Unfortunately, that’s just the problem. Leipzig’s attack can be very on-and-off again; consistency isn’t their strong suit. Timo Werner especially is coming off a poor World Cup with Germany, and quite honestly, he didn’t exactly make a case for why he should ever get a call-up again. Yussuf Poulsen is good, but not great. Bruma is a lethal player on the wings, and he’s going to be a problem for Dortmund’s ever-aging fullbacks so expect that to be a problem throughout the match.

Midfield

RB Leipzig will be without their midfield maestro Naby Keïta, as he is now playing in England. Seeing as they haven’t signed a replacement for him, the task of controlling the midfield for Leipzig will fall mainly to Emil Forsberg and Stefan Ilsanker, given that reports say the talented Kevin Kampl is out with muscle problems. I imagine star man Forsberg will be torn between contributing to the attack and sitting back making sure Leipzig’s back line has a player to pass the ball to.

Defense

The Bundesliga isn’t big on defense, especially Leipzig, so the Red Bulls’ back line is hardly worth mentioning. They might be enough to stop a Dortmund side playing without a proper striker, but don’t count on it.

Predicted Starting XI

According to Bundesliga.com:

BVB XI: Bürki, Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Schmelzer, Delaney, Witsel, Pulisic, Reus, Sancho, Philipp

RBL XI: Gulacsi, Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Saracchi, Bruma, Demme, Ilsanker, Forsberg, Werner, Poulsen

Lucien Favre recently said Roman Bürki would be Dortmund’s No. 1 goalkeeper, so if there was any confusion as to who would sit in goal, the answer is clear now. Akanji and Diallo seem like they will be BVB’s go-to center-back pairing, and for now Piszczek and Schmelzer, though aged and probably a little bit out of touch, will handle the fullback duties. Newcomers Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel could form a solid midfield along with either Reus or Pulisic as the third midfielder. Reus or Pulisic next to Sancho and Philipp in the attacking trio could be incredible to watch, and should keep the Leipzig defenders busy throughout the match.

Predicted Scoreline: 2-2 Draw

Witsel and Delaney should do a good job controlling the pace of the game, and it’s clear BVB has the superior midfield. This will force RB Leipzig’s attackers to attack BVB’s fullbacks, then force crosses in again and again. Dortmund’s center-backs seem solid but that constant attack is likely to eventually produce results. On the flip side, Dortmund’s depth in attack is also going to prove to be too much for Leipzig’s defense and goalkeeper. Considering the circumstances in Dortmund, a draw against Leipzig would be a rather favorable outcome. For the time being. Let’s hope the standards rise during the season.