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Supercup Preview: Can Borussia Dortmund Defend Their Title?

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BVB have a chance to swipe an early-season trophy against Bayern Munich

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Muenchen - DFL Supercup 2019 Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

The first trophy of the 2020-21 season is officially on the line for Borussia Dortmund. BVB will be making their first trip to the Allianz Arena of the season tomorrow to face Bayern Munich in the DFL Supercup, with the goal of defending their claim to the only trophy of the 2019-20 season that slipped from Bayern’s grasp.

In rare fashion for Der Klassiker, both sides will be coming into tomorrow’s match on the backs of defeats. \As we all know, BVB lost to Augsburg 2-0 in a flat performance on Saturday, while Bayern were brushed aside by Hoffenheim 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. Bayern played only three days after a grueling 120 minute match against Sevilla in the UEFA Supercup last minute, and their fatigue was very apparent.

It’s hard to believe, because their team just won the treble, but Bayern fans are very frustrated with their board right now. The team already had a very short offseason to rejuvenate after their Champions League run, and the losses of Thiago, Coutinho, Ivan Perisic, and Adrian Odriozola have made what was recently a very deep Bayern squad remarkably shallow. The club will average close to a game every three days this season across all competitions, so this lack of depth could prove devastating if injuries start piling up.

Potential Lineups

Ineednoname posted the following lineup prediction on Bavarian Football Works. If this lineup looks familiar, it’s because it’s basically identical to the squad that carried Bayern to the treble last season, but without Thiago. Leroy Sané, who normally would start for Bayern, suffered a knee injury against Hoffenheim and will miss the match tomorrow.

Even without Sané, that attacking corps is one of, if not the best, in the world. Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, and Serge Gnabry alone combined for 54 goals in the Bundesliga last season.

As a jack-of-all-trades type of midfielder, Joshua Kimmich may not be as dynamic a passer and dribbler as Thiago was in Bayern’s midfield, but he’s more than capable of putting in anything from a heavy tackle to a long ball over the top to Lewandowski or Müller. He scored the lone goal for Bayern against Hoffenheim on Sunday, just as he scored the lone goal in Dortmund’s defeat against Bayern in the Bundesliga in the Spring. Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez will play in place of David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng, with Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies on either side of a back four.

Borussia Dortmund are dealing with injury troubles of their own. Thorgan Hazard is sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered against Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Jadon Sancho and Roman Bürki are both suffering from non-Covid respiratory illnesses, and will miss the match. Expect something resembling the following lineup:

While the 3-5-2 may have struggled against Augsburg, I think that it is the appropriate formation to use against Bayern Munich. Hansi Flick’s Bayern play a rapid-fire pressing/counterpressing system with a high line. For a model of how to play against this, an example that I’d look to is how Olympique Lyon lined up against Bayern in the Champions League semifinal. When the game was still scoreless, Lyon were able to create several grade-A scoring chances on counterattacks by pressing around the midway line, intercepting passes during the buildup, and trying to play through-balls between or behind Bayern’s two central defenders.

Lyon ran a 3-5-2 for this system, which is partially why I think Lucien Favre will stick with a similar formation. Håland’s job will to be to keep Bayern’s back line on their toes with constant runs in behind, while Marco Reus will try to play deeper, receive passes and play Håland in. Witsel and Meunier will likely play much further back than they did on the weekend and primarily act as passing outlets for the back three to play around Bayern’s press, with Meunier especially staying back to prevent Davies from running at Emre Can one-on-one. Guerreiro will likely play a bit further forward as Pavard likes to sit deeper than Davies.

It will be a hard battle for sure, and how it plays out will depend on a lot of uncertainties like fatigue. I hope that Bayern will be feeling the strain of three matches in a week, but something tells me that they will be able to steel themselves for a solid performance like they always do. BVB will need to double their efforts against Augsburg if they hope to escape with anything other than a hiding.