Fresh off their first Champions League win in two years, Borussia Dortmund returns to domestic play as they travel to Sinsheim to take on Hoffenheim.
Following a 3-1 win over Frankfurt on Friday and a 1-0 win in Champions League against Club Brugge on Tuesday, Dortmund are in a good place, standings-wise. They’re currently second behind Bayern in the Bundesliga with a +5 goal differential, and they sit second behind Atlético Madrid in Champions League Group A.
Aesthetically, however, it hasn’t been pretty. Aside from the 23 minutes Alcácer played in the Frankfurt match, the team has looked lost when attacking their opposition and I blame that on not having a true forward on the field. Philipp is a fine player and Reus is Reus, but they’re not strikers and it shows from the dreadful play up-front. Thankfully, every other position looks to be playing as well as we’d have hoped, even with the midfield looking like it needs a rotation based on the personnel and the roles they play.
It doesn’t look like much will change based on the projected line-up. Favre looks to be bringing Alcácer along slowly and building his match fitness up so that later on he can be the full-time starter, because that’s the only explanation I can come up with for not starting him over Philipp. I’d also like to see Kagawa over Reus in the attacking midfielder role, which would allow Reus to start over Wolf on the left. Or Sancho over Wolf, whichever is better. Other than this, I’m fine with the lineup. The back four plus Bürki have been a real strength this season, and midfield situation has been fine but could always use some rotation just to see who fits best where.
Hoffenheim haven’t had as good a start to the season as they have had in recent seasons, starting the season with just one point in three league matches. Hungarian striker Ádám Szalai is the team’s leading scorer with three goals, two coming against Freiburg. Andrej Kramaric is always a goal-scoring threat for Der Kraichgauer, as he’s scored double-digit goals the last two seasons. Dortmund will also be up against it simply because Julian Nagelsmann, the future manager of RB Leipzig, is such a tactically adept and flexible manager that it’s often tough to anticipate what he’ll throw out there.
The last time these teams played wasn’t pretty if you’re a Dortmund fan. Needing anything but a big loss on the last day of the season, BVB laid an egg and nearly missed out on Champions League competition were it not for Leverkusen Leverkusening against Hannover while we were soundly thumped, 3-1, against Der Kraichgauer.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
We might be without Paco in this one, which hurts us because there won’t be a true striker/forward/whatever you call the position. I don’t know how Hoffenheim are going to respond after their 2-2 draw to Shakhtar Donetsk, nor how Dortmund will come out after playing basically the same lineup after every single game, but it will probably be a sloppy game with moments of brief brilliance.