After another tepid display against Freiburg last week, Borussia Dortmund now find themselves in a position that would’ve been unthinkable just months ago. Sitting at sixth in the Bundesliga table, Die Schwarzgelben are four points behind fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt in the race for Champions League qualification. Though there are still 14 matches left to go this season, BVB and Terzic will have to find consistent success if they wish to regain a spot in the top four, and a win on Saturday would do a world of good in terms of achieving that goal.
Dortmund’s inability to gain form over the last month has primarily been due to the squad’s failure to keep the ball out of their own net. Terzic’s pressing style has been largely ineffective, leading to a much more open defense for opposing attackers to exploit. Over the last five Bundesliga games, BVB have conceded 10 goals, seven of which came from open-play rather than the set-piece goals typically given up during Favre’s tenure. If this trend continues, any hope of getting back into the Champions League places will almost certainly be wiped away. Terzic needs to find a solution to the squad’s defensive woes against Hoffenheim, as the striker combination of Andrej Kramaric and Ihlas Bebou has shown itself to be capable of breaking down any defense in the Bundesliga this season.
The Black-and-Yellows will also have to face Die Kraichgauer while missing several key players. First-choice keeper Roman Bürki is still out with a shoulder injury, while defenders Dan-Axel Zagadou and Thomas Meunier will take another week to recover from their respective injuries. On the bright side, it seems as though Thorgan Hazard may be able to return to the side this weekend, as he returned to training this past Tuesday. Given his long recovery, it’s unlikely that we will see him as anything more than a substitute on Saturday, but his return is an undoubtedly positive sign for BVB.
How Hoffenheim Might Line-Up
Though Hoffenheim has seen mixed results with Sebastian Hoeneß’s 3-5-2, it seems unlikely that they will revert back to a 4-2-3-1 against Dortmund. Their loan-signing of Chris Richards this January seemed to be a sign of the coach’s commitment to a three at the back formation, and this formation also allows them to have all of their most talented midfielders and strikers on the pitch at the same time.
How Dortmund Might Line-Up
Though the Black-and-Yellows haven’t put their best foot forward in a 3-4-3 this season, given Hoffenheim’s two striker system, it might be the safest option for Terzic to place three center backs on the pitch. Dahoud’s play against Freiburg on Saturday was fairly impressive, and his ability to link the attack and defense could see him into the starting line-up this weekend, but perhaps I’m just being optimistic.
Both teams enter Saturday’s game needing a positive result, and both are extremely inconsistent. Ultimately, I think Dortmund’s quality will win out, but if Hoffenheim score first, this match could easily go their way.