A week after the Ruckrunde-opening win over RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund returns to Signal Iduna Park as they host relegation candidate Hannover 96. Without three of their first-team centerbacks and missing Marco Reus, Dortmund opened the second half of the season with a nail-biting 1-0 win over fourth-place RB Leipzig at their Red Bull Arena. If they can put up a performance like that against one of the heavy-hitters in the league minus some of their best players, that should bode very well for the rest of the season.
Hannover is currently 17th in the Bundesliga with 11 points, and only ahead of last-place Nürnberg because of a (slightly) better goal differential. Including their 1-0 loss to Bremen to open the Ruckrunde, they’ve managed just two points in their last seven matches. The previous meeting between these teams was back in August, which saw both teams struggle to finish their chances in a 0-0 draw at the HDI-Arena. Dortmund started off that match rough before settling into things and having a couple of nice scoring opportunities. With the squad now more experienced with Favre’s style of play in a competitive setting, I’d be shocked if this Saturday’s scoreline is the same from earlier this year.
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After missing the Leipzig match with an ankle injury, the reported return of Marco Reus should only help a Dortmund attack that, at times, missed their star midfielder last weekend. While we’re still without Akanji and Toprak, Weigl filled in very well as an emergency centerback against one of the more dangerous offenses in Germany. While I like him, Bobby Wood shouldn’t give this backline anywhere near as much trouble as Werner and Poulson did last weekend. With the rest of the line-up more or less the same from last week, expect a lot of what’s working to keep working. I’d personally like to see more Pulisic and Alcácer, but Raph and Sancho are playing lights out on the wings and Paco has been much better as a super-sub than a starter.
Prediction: 2-0 Win
With Bayern still nipping at their heels and an easy start to the Ruckrunde, Dortmund needs to come out attacking and drive for a win. And against a team that is allowing the third-most goals in the Bundesliga, that shouldn’t be a problem unless our finishing once again lets them down. I’d imagine that Hannover will be putting a lot of bodies behind the ball to not allow a ton of scoring chances while limiting their creativity going forward, but Dortmund still need to be wary of the counter.