On the heels of Edin Terzic’s maiden victory, the Black and Yellows must now travel to face FC Union Berlin with only two days rest. Both teams will be playing their third game in seven days, and forced to dig deep. As our own Paul Johnson wrote last year.
Last year Dortmund travelled to face Union Berlin in matchweek three fully expecting a hard fought but ultimately pre-ordained win against the Bundesliga debutants. Instead, the passion of the longsuffering East Berlin fanbase seemed to infuse their team with energy. There were tifos, there were flairs, and there was violence on and off the pitch. Thomas Delaney left the game at half time after suffering a nasty head injury and trying to play through it while fan groups battled in the stands of the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. In the second half, Dortmund’s repeated defensive errors ultimately cost them the game, leading to serious questions about the standing of Manuel Akanji and Julian Weigl, and growing grumbles about Lucien Favre.
This year, the fans sadly won’t be there to create such an atmosphere, and Dortmund will arrive as the team with something to prove against FC Union Berlin. After easily surviving their debut season in the Bundesliga, Urs Fischer’s team have outperformed expectations yet again and sit in sixth place after hard fought draws against Stuttgart and Bayern Munich in the past week, both teams that have punished Dortmund already this season.
How Might they Line up?
Dortmund’s injury list grows and changes every week, but today we have news that several players may also be returning. Haaland and Hazard remain out, while Mats Hummels is a doubt after he left the Werder Bremen game early. Meunier and Delaney are questionable to return as they recover from recent injuries. Max Kruse leads a long list of absences for Union Berlin who don’t have nearly the depth of talent Dortmund enjoys to replace missing players.
With only one day to practice since Tuesday’s match, we must guess that Terzic will attempt similar tactics to what mostly worked in Bremen. Shifting between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 as shown, Dortmund sought to push their midfielders higher up the pitch against Bremen to win the ball back quickly and in dangerous positions. Witsel was asked to sit deep and shield the back line, a role that suits him well, while Reus martialed the press as the most advanced of a midfield three. Moukoko led the line for his first start and gave the Dortmund attack a new focus that seemed to create space for the midfielders behind him.
While the graphic above predicts an unchanged side, I would be surprised if that is truly the case tomorrow. Can, Dahoud and Brandt should be well rested and ready to contribute, and it will be important to include fresh legs in the side. They could theoretically give Dortmund a new midfield three. In defense, Zagadou may need to give Hummels a rest, while Morey could also give way to Passlack or Meunier, if he is ready. Guerreiro, on the other hand, has been Dortmund’s best player and leading scorer in Haaland’s absence and will hopefully be able to continue. In attack, Reyna has been the most consistent Dortmund option and will surely start again if he is fit. Moukoko should still be fresh, and I think he is likely to be given the remaining run of games until Haaland returns. Sancho played well in many areas, but his finishing woes this season seemed to deepen as he squandered an excellent chance to seal the win in stoppage time. More than just pressing and energy, Edin Terzic’s side will have to finish their chances if they hope to get three points this time.
What do you think? Can Dortmund keep up the energy level after this brutal run of games, and such an emotional week? Who should step in to freshen the side? Who needs a rest?