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Champions League Preview: Borussia Dortmund vs Club Brugge

Can BVB gain some traction in the Champions League?

Borussia Dortmund - Press Conference And Training Session Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Here’s the chocolate. It’s from Bruges. That’s in Belgium. That’s where Daddy’s from.

Match day three of the Champions League is on, and Borussia Dortmund have a date with Club Brugge, last year’s Belgian Champions and approximately the third least-irrelevant team in Belgium.

You may be thinking now: “Club Brugge, I recognize that name. Where have I heard that club’s name before?” Well, you are indeed correct for remembering Club Brugge. Borussia Dortmund faced them only two years ago in the Champions League Group Stage. And man oh man, were those matches a pair of doozies. The away match in Bruges was particularly brutal. You know... the one with that goal.

But this season is different! Christian Pulisic is gone, Gio Reyna is here, and Brugge have, presumably, made a few transfers over the last few seasons. The two matches in 2018 were both dreary affairs, so let’s hope that at the very least we get a bit more entertainment out of tomorrow’s match.

Predicted Lineup

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that Erling Haaland, who missed the weekend match against Arminia Bielefeld with some nagging knee issues, is back in training and should be healthy to face Club Brugge. The bad news is that Mats Hummels, who also missed the Bielefeld match, will definitely miss tomorrow’s match. Lucien Favre said as much in his press conference today:

The big thing to keep in mind, of course, is the upcoming match in the Bundesliga against Bayern Munich on Saturday. With this match around the corner, Lucien Favre will presumably want to rotate heavily, while keeping in mind that the Champions League isn’t locked up and that BVB could still really use a win.

How BVB line up heavily depends on how Lucien Favre chooses to deal with the center back situation. When Mats Hummels was subbed off against Bielefeld, Lukasz Piszczek replaced him in a back four. Putting Piszczek with Manuel Akanji may be a risk, but there aren’t really many other options. I doubt a back three with Thomas Delaney will be inherently any better for BVB, so I think Favre will go with a back four, the formation that has worked well against Zenit.

This looks like a strong lineup, but I definitely think we’re gonna see some 60th minute subs. There’s no way that Sancho or Haaland will play the full 90 minutes. I have both of them starting but I’d fully expect them to come off for Reus and Hazard. Gio Reyna may come off as well. If Axel Witsel actually starts, then I fully expect him to be subbed off.

Score Prediction

I don’t expect this to be too difficult for Borussia Dortmund. Even though Brugge beat Zenit and drew Lazio, BVB are in decent form. I’m predicting a close match, but ultimately a BVB win.