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Bundesliga Match Preview: BVB Face VFL Bochum in Discount Revierderby

BVB face VFL Bochum, the team from down the block.

GERMANY-AUGSBURG-FOOTBALL-BUNDESLIGA-AUGSBURG VS BOCHUM Photo by Philippe Ruiz/Xinhua via Getty Images

One of the most unfortunate side-effects of Schalke’s relegation to the 2. Bundesliga last season is the lack of a true Revierderby this season. Even though Schalke have suffered a marked decline over the last few years, the rivalry between Dortmund and Schalke has remained as vicious as ever. Now, though, they’re in the second division, and barring a draw in the DFB-Pokal, will not face BVB this season.

But with Schalke gone, who is the next closest local club in the Bundesliga? That honor belongs to none other than tomorrow’s opponent, VFL Bochum. In fact, Bochum’s stadium, the Ruhrstadion, is actually closer to the Westfalenstadion than the Veltins Arena is:

Source: Google Maps

Needless to say, ‘Bochum vs Dortmund’ isn’t much of an historical rivalry, but as the two clubs are so close to each other, I suppose it is something of a derby.

Bochum have been the definition of a midtable side this season. They currently sit 10th in the Bundesliga, but have the fifth worst goal and expected goal differentials. Their best player, by a wide margin, has been goalkeeper Manuel Riemann. According to FBRef, Riemann has saved, on average, almost 0.4 more goals than would be expected, for every 90 minutes he’s been on the pitch. By percentage, that is by dividing his post-shot expected goals against his goals against, he’s second in the league behind Wolfsburg’s Mark Flekken. He’s also saved the only two penalties he’s faced. While he missed Bochum’s last game with an injury, he’s since returned to training and barring any additional developments, should be ready to play tomorrow.

Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, need to regroup from last weekend’s controversial ending in Der Klassiker. While it would have been nice to be leading the Bundesliga at this mark of the season, a four point deficit isn’t too big, and the title chase is by no means over. A win against Bochum could be a nice pick-me-up to give Dortmund some momentum again.

Before we get to the lineups, it’s worth remembering that Borussia Dortmund’s manager, Marco Rose, will not be allowed on the touchline during the game. Having been sent off by Felix Zwayer last weekend, he will have to serve a one-game suspension. He will not be allowed to have any contact with anyone from the club between thirty minutes before game time, and thirty minutes after the match ends, and must watch either from a box or from the stands. Assistant coaches Alexander Zickler and Rene Maric will replace him on the touchline.

Predicted Lineup

According to RN, both Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt should technically be ready to start against VFL Bochum. However, given that both players are recovering from COVID and a head injury respectively, I wouldn’t be surprised if BVB’s coaching staff chooses to start one or both of them on the bench. Donyell Malen, on the other hand, is guaranteed to miss the game, as he’s currently sick with an unspecified infection.

Manuel Akanji will miss the rest of December following his minor knee surgery, which means either Marin Pongracic or Dan-Axel Zagadou will start at center back.

I think this would be a good match to start Axel Witsel instead of Emre Can. Can has played a lot of minutes and Bochum’s midfield/back line are not very good, so I don’t think BVB will have much trouble controlling the midfield. On offense, I think the coaching staff will rest both Hazard and Brandt and give Marius Wolf another start on the wing.

Score Prediction

Given Bochum’s shoddy defensive record, this game will, at the very least, be open. I think BVB should take care of business and score quite a few goals. I predict a solid 3-0 win.