Borussia Dortmund takes on Wolfsburg this Saturday at 10:30 Eastern time. Twelve games remain, the lead over Bayern built in the first half of the season has evaporated, but there is still hope. Before the season began there was little expectations that Dortmund could be in serious title contention this late into the season. The team has gotten back on track in the past few weeks and must show their desire to compete for a title against Wolfsburg this weekend as they did in the closing minutes against Berlin, because it is only going to get more difficult with the second match against Bayern Munich on the horizon.
Wolfsburg has had a solid stretch over their past five games other than a disaster 6-0 loss at the hands of Bayern three weeks ago. Other than that, they have come away with three wins by three goals and a draw. Wout Weghorst in particular has been in great form including a hat trick just before the international break against Fortuna Dusseldorf.
After a closely contest 1-0 win over Wolfsburg in November, Dortmund will need all hands on deck this time around, and it appears the squad is slowly recovering from their recent rash of injuries. Piszczek, Phillip, and the recently injured Pulisic will be out, but Axel Witsel and Paco Alcacer should be ready and available to play, and their return could not come soon enough. As irreplaceable Witsel has been this season, I expect him to return to the starting lineup immediately with Alcacer likely coming off the bench.
In place of Piszczek, Marius Wolf got the start against Berlin, but was subbed off for Hakimi later in the match. Hakimi should be expected to get the start straight out of the gate this time around alongside Akanji, Zagadou and Diallo.
It will be more interesting to see what Favre decides to go with in the mid-field and on the wings. With Pulisic out, I think it is most likely Bruun Larsen, who played up top against Berlin, moves out to the wing and Gotze starts up top in his place. If Witsel is fit enough to start, there will also be an interesting decision that needs to be made whether he replaces Delaney or Weigl. Delaney has been a regular in the lineup but he could see himself on the bench with Weigl’s recent impressive play.
Whatever Favre goes with, it is nice to finally be back in a position where there are difficult decisions to make in the lineup due to an abundance of options rather than the dearth we have seen in recent weeks.
Prediction: 3-1 Dortmund
I think Dortmund has slowly been getting back into form the past couple of weeks and their win against Berlin in the final second will prove to be a positive sign for things to come. This team finally has a sense of urgency to keep pace with Bayern and will not disappoint in their match against Wolfsburg. Going into the game next week against their rivals tied in the table is crucial.