After the November international window that seemed to go on forever, Borussia Dortmund returns to league action as they travel to Germany’s capital to face Hertha Berlin in MD 8 of the Bundesliga.
Dortmund had to get the stink off of themselves after the brutal 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker right before the international break. BVB currently sit three points behind Bayern for first in the league, and they rest one point off second-place RB Leipzig, so they need to come out of the November break strong if they want a chance at closing that gap or even overtaking either team.
Standing in their way on Saturday will be Hertha Berlin, who sit ahead of TSG Hoffenheim in 12th by a single goal. They stumbled out of the gates for the new season, losing four straight after a 3-1 win over Bremen, but they have rebounded with four points in their last two matches. While Hertha will be without Jhon Cordoba due to injury, they will still have leading scorer Matheus Cunha at their disposal. They are always a team that can surprise anyone, as they nearly defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, so they need to be taken seriously for the full 90 minutes or else Dortmund will be in for a long day.
This match happens two days since the latest set of international matches, which featured a number of Borussia Dortmund players, so there will have to be some rotation. For starters, it’s Roman Burki in net as per usual, with Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji starting at center-back, and Raphael Guerreiro and Thomas Meunier as full-backs. It’s risky to go with Rapha after he left the Portugal camp with an injury, but RN reported that it wasn’t severe enough to prevent him from missing this match.
In midfield, I want to see Mahmoud Dahoud and Jude Bellingham manning the center. I’ve really been surprised by how effective Dahoud has been in recent matches, enough that he has been at times Dortmund’s best player (even when he pops one off from 20 yards away), and Bellingham has been as advertised despite his age. I’d like to see the two of them together, as I haven’t been impressed by Witsel’s play this season.
Up front, give me Gio Reyna on the left and Jadon Sancho on the right and Marco Reus in the center. While having just played on Wednesday, Sancho is still the top winger on the squad and arguably one of the best players on the roster, whether he’s in a funk or not. I’d also be fine with Hazard on the left and Reyna on the right if Sancho isn’t fit enough to start the match. And Reyna, who officially signed a new contract this morning, is still playing at a high-enough level that he should be starting on either wing or even in the middle
And up front is Erling Haaland. He was sent back from international duty with Norway after there were positive COVID tests among the squad. Was Norway’s response a little overboard? Possibly, although they did not want to break national COVID restrictions. Kicker reported that Haaland wouldn’t have to go into quarantine past this match, so he goes right into the starting forward position. Plus, you can’t start Youssoufa Moukoko in his first senior BVB match right after he turns 16, that’s just crazy, but don’t be shocked to see him make his debut.
Dortmund haven’t lost to Hertha since 2017, and I would like to keep that run going against the blue Berlin club. Despite the gulf of talent between the two, squad rotation will be key for Dortmund as they still have Champions League matches during the weekdays and they had a number of key players return from international competition recently. So I don’t think it will be as one-sided a match as it should be, but it should still be a win. I see a 3-1 victory for BVB with goals coming from Haaland, Reus, and Moukoko as he makes his Bundesliga debut.