Borussia Dortmund’s busy winter schedule continues tomorrow, with a match against one of the Bundesliga’s two remaining winless clubs, FC Cologne. BVB are firing on all cylinders right now, having scored eight goals over two games since the international break, enough to match Cologne’s goal output for the entire season. Dortmund have been led by a massive offensive outburst from Erling Haaland, who scored six of the team’s eight goals over the past week.
Currently sitting in 17th place, tied with last-place Schalke on points, FC Cologne have had a rough and arguably unlucky start to their season, with three draws and five losses, of which only one was by a margin greater than a single goal. Their advanced stats would indicate that they’re practically a mid-table side, as they’re actually in the top half of the league in expected goals against, and only sixth from the bottom in expected goals. Unlike Schalke, who clearly deserve to be in the relegation zone, Cologne could reasonably expect to see some mean regression as the season goes on.
Marius Wolf, Borussia Dortmund’s depth right back, is currently on loan with Cologne. While he struggled to make the pitch for BVB, he has had a much more prominent role at Cologne with six appearances and 480 minutes in the Bundesliga. He spoke to Ruhr Nachrichten upon returning to Dortmund, and echoed the sentiment that Cologne’s start to the season has been somewhat unlucky:
One or two small mistakes often cost us the whole game. We also played a very good game against Bayern, where we lost 2-1 with an unfortunate penalty decision. We showed that we are not easy to play with. But we can only get out of there together, have to step on the gas and become more determined.
As I hinted above, Cologne’s defense hasn’t been that bad this season. The problem so far has been putting the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately for them, they will probably need to score a few goals tomorrow if they want to come away with any points, because Borussia Dortmund have been prolific lately. BVB haven’t scored fewer than two goals since the match against Lazio on October 20th, and could expect to see even more tomorrow.
In team news for Borussia Dortmund, Dan-Axel Zagadou looks set to miss one more match before he is ready to return to the squad. Zagadou’s best buddy, Raphael Guerreiro, is also injured and is unlikely to start tomorrow.
In his recent press conference, Lucien Favre stressed the importance of rotation. We saw him rotate on Tuesday, and it would make sense for him to do so again. With the injuries I mentioned above in mind, I expect BVB’s lineup to look something like this:
All three midfielders in the lineup above started on the bench against Club Brugge, so I doubt any of them will sit again, with the possible exception of Dahoud who may miss out to Jude Bellingham, who put in a solid performance in the Champions League. I also think that Favre will reward Sancho for his excellent performance in the week with another start, to help him build momentum and confidence. Lastly, I expect Favre to start Reus as well, as he only played a handful of minutes in the midweek game.
Although I always like to be cautious when making these predictions, I also think it’s hard to find a reason to bet against Borussia Dortmund right now. The way BVB steamrolled Hertha in the second half and manhandled Club Brugge makes me think the same will happen again tomorrow. I’m gonna say that BVB are gonna win 3-0 and Erling Haaland will have another brace.