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Match Preview: Borussia Dortmund vs VFL Wolfsburg

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Will BVB be victorious, or be thrown to the wolves?

VfL Wolfsburg - RB Leipzig Photo by Peter Steffen/picture alliance via Getty Images

Fresh off of an invigorating victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund have a chance to build some momentum against VFL Wolfsburg, one of the Bundesliga’s most surprising upstarts of 2019.

After years of futility in which they narrowly staved off relegation, and barely qualifying for the Europa League last season, VFL Wolfsburg are finally back among the Bundesliga’s elite, performing at a level we haven’t seen since Kevin de Bruyne led the Wolves to a second-place finish in the 2014-15 season. Wolfsburg are the only remaining undefeated team in the Bundesliga, with a 4-5-0 record. With eleven goals and five goals against, it’s very clear that Wolfsburg are a defense-first side. Oliver Glasner, a Bundesliga rookie manager, has come to Wolfsburg from the Austrian Bundesliga and engrained in his side a heavy work-ethic and defensive system.

Wolfsburg like to set up with a back three of Robin Knoche, Jeffrey Bruma, and Marcel Tisserand, with Joshua Guilovogui playing in front of the back line. Wolfsburg’s somewhat anemic offense (13th in the league in scoring) is driven almost entirely by the 6’6” Wout Weghorst and Josip Brekalo, who have combined for seven of the club’s eleven goals. Weghorst scored 17 goals in the Bundesliga last season, and despite his height, is just as good with his feet as he is with his head. His ability to find space inside the penalty box and fire off a shot is lethal.

Despite their stout defense in the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg’s last performance was a disastrous 6-1 loss to RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal, so expect the Wolves to be out for blood this weekend. Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, are coming off of a 2-1 victory in the Pokal. While BVB looked relatively toothless for the first seventy-five minutes or so, a quick double from Julian Brandt provided BVB with a desperately-needed shot in the arm, and motivated BVB to finish off the match with arguably the best 15 minutes that we’ve seen from Dortmund this season. BVB were pressing high, flying into challenges, winning the ball up high, and generally showing levels of effort that we haven’t seen in months.

In injury news, Roman Bürki looks ready to return to the squad after missing the last few games with a muscle injury. Mats Hummels suddenly came down with the flu on Wednesday, so it’s highly unlikely that he’ll start tomorrow. That means that Dan Axel will have another chance to prove he can start regularly for BVB, starting in place of Hummels alongside Manuel Akanji. Julian Weigl and Axel Witsel played well in midweek, so they would be a strong bet to start again this week. With Reus still out with the flu, Brandt, Hazard, and Jadon Sancho are all likely to start as well.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund showed some signs of life this week in the Pokal, and Wolfsburg are reeling from a devastating loss to Leipzig. That being said, Wolfsburg’s record in the Bundesliga is strong, so I’d expect nothing less than a nail-biting contest. Despite BVB’s victory in the Pokal, they only mustered some quality offense for about 15 minutes. They’ll have to do a bit more before I’m ready to predict a win against the Bundesliga’s best defense. I’m predicting a 1-1 draw, with Hazard and Weghorst scoring.