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Champions League Preview: Dortmund Hosts Club Brugge

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Can BVB hold on to the top spot in Group F?

Club Brugge v KV Kortrijk - Jupiler Pro League Photo by Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

Following the end of the international window, UEFA Champions League resumes action this Tuesday/Wednesday as Borussia Dortmund hosts Club Brugge on Tuesday in the fourth match of Group F. The teams last played on November 4 in Brugge, with Dortmund handing the Belgian champions a 3-0 defeat. BVB currently sit atop the group with six points, followed closely by Lazio with five points and Club Brugge with four points. The remaining three matches are massively important for Dortmund as they look to advance to the Champions League Knockout stage for the third consecutive year.

Dortmund are facing a quick turnaround after mopping the floor with Hertha Berlin in a 5-2 decision inside the Olympiastadion. Erling Haaland single-handedly dominated the hosts with four goals in the second half. It was pretty rough goings for Dortmund until Haaland scored, with Dortmund only registering one shot on goal in that first half. A change to the line-up would benefit BVB going into the UCL match in terms of attacking creativity and directness.

There was moderate rotation across the starting line-up for Dortmund in Saturday’s match, with a number of first-team players sitting on the bench. Expect players like Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Giovanni Reyna, and maybe even Jude Bellingham to move from the bench to the starting XI while Marco Reus and Julian Brandt could see the match from the bench.

I don’t watch enough (or any, for that matter) Belgian soccer, but by looking at the match stats, Brugge have been very good in their two Champions League matches. They’ve been the better side against Zenit and Lazio, nicking four points off both sides and positioning themselves to move into the qualifying spots should any of the other teams stumble.

Line-Up Projection

The return of Emre Can to the starting XI meant the return to the 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 that Favre loves to play with. That means Thomas Meunier moves from his favored RB position to a RWB, where he has struggled to fit into the role when in possession.

Just because I don’t think Meunier fits the position and shouldn’t start as a RWB in a back-three doesn’t mean Favre thinks that. He has played the second-most minutes on the squad, behind only Mats Hummels. So don’t be surprised to see his name on the team sheet over someone like Felix Passlack, who is a better fit for that position.

Moving on, I don’t see much rotation happening along that back-line, while I want to see Bellingham move into the starting XI over either Axel Witsel or Mahmoud Dahoud. I thought both played fine on Saturday, but I would very much like to see what Bellingham can do with more minutes. I can actually see Witsel moving to the bench after going the full 90 against Berlin, and Dahoud is the more attack-minded of the central midfielders.

In the attack is where I think we can see the most rotation. Reyna only played approximately 23 minutes on Saturday, while Sancho and Hazard didn’t even see one minute of playing time. That has to mean the two of them are starting on Tuesday. And at this point, you might as well brand Haaland’s name into the starting XI because unless he’s injured or suspended, he’s your starting striker.

Match Prediction

Brugge have been the surprise team of a rather strong Group F, beating Zenit and drawing with Lazio before Dortmund scored three on them. They’re not world beaters, but they are a tough side that have been punching above their weight during this Champions League. I don’t think they’ll come out of Westfalenstadion with any points, but they shouldn’t be overwhelmed and look absolutely lost either. I predict a 2-1 win over the Belgians, with Haaland and Hazard the goal scorers.