Grab your morning Bratwursts and Pilsners everyone, because we’ve got a top-six matchup on our hands! In this episode of Pandemic: Bundesliga Edition, Borussia Dortmund will be facing sixth-place WFL Wolfsburg. On the same day that Borussia Mönchengladbach take on Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich take on Eintracht Frankfurt, it’s a prime opportunity for Borussia Dortmund to earn three vital points in the title race.
While Wolfsburg are well outside of the Bundesliga’s top five clubs that are currently jockeying for the Meisterschale, they’ve been the “best of the rest” of the league, so to speak. In his first year managing Wolfsburg, Austrian manager Oliver Glasner has Wolfsburg in a position to repeat their sixth-place result from last season. Wolfsburg have built their success thus far on a solid three-man back line of Jeffrey Bruma, John Brooks, and Robin Knoche and a robust pair of defensive midfielders in Maximilian Arnold and Joshua Guilavogui. In attack, the Wolves are led by Josip Brekalo and Wolfsburg’s most lethal attacker, Wout Weghorst, who has notched 11 of Wolfsburg’s 36 goals.
Most of Wolfsburg’s ideal squad is fit and ready to go, with the exception of right-back William, who ruptured his cruciate ligament back in February. Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, are still licking their wounds from... whatever they were doing during quarantine that caused so many injuries. Emre Can, Gio Reyna, and Jadon Sancho should be fit, but Axel Witsel will probably miss the match, as will Marco Reus, who is now out for the season with another injury.
With a pivotal match against Bayern Munich on the horizon, Favre will be (or at least should be) interested in preserving his players as much as possible, while still fielding a team that can keep up with Wolfsburg. This means a heavy level of rotation would be ideal, as would giving some of Dortmund’s less important bench players some minutes. Ideally, Favre would field a strong lineup similar to the one he played against Schalke, grab a lead, and then sub off key players like Can, Sancho, and Brandt.
I’d expect to see the same back three that performed so well against Schalke: Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, and Lukasz Piszczek, with Can and Brandt in midfield behind the attacking band. Favre may start Sancho, or he may choose to bring him on as a sub again, to get him ready for a full 90-minute performance against Bayern. Thorgan Hazard is coming off of a brilliant performance against Schalke, so he will probably be given the start again, joining Håland up front.
It should be a fun match. Wolfsburg aren’t an offensive dynamo, with exactly half the goals of BVB to this point in the season, but they’re still capable of putting up a fight. I expect a BVB victory, albeit a close one.