Borussia Dortmund head into Matchday 31 sitting just outside the top four, needing to win all their remaining games to stand a chance at qualifying for the Champions League. Tomorrow they travel to face Wolfsburg in what might be the biggest game of their season. A win against Wolfsburg would see BVB narrow the gap between the two teams from five points to two, and doing so puts them within one game of the top four, and the all-important Champions League qualifying spots.
But Wolfsburg have a lot riding on this too. Champions League football could be a game changer for a team that has been on the outside looking in for a while now. They’ve managed to put together a talented, well-organized team that risks being picked apart. While it’s still possible that this happens even with Champions League football, it is all but guaranteed if they miss out.
If they want to get the better of Wolfsburg, BVB will need to stop their talisman, Wout Weghorst. Weghorst is averaging 0.87 G+A/90 and has scored 20 goals so far this season. That is 14 more than anyone else in the Wolfsburg squad has scored. But Wolfsburg’s calling card has been at the other end of the pitch. This is a team that boasts real defensive quality. They run a tight ship at the back, with Koen Casteels and Maxence Lacroix two of the stars in an excellent backline.
How Will Dortmund Lineup?
BVB are coming off the back of a 2-0 victory over Union Berlin in the week, and will look to keep up the good form, though perhaps with a little more end product.
Here’s how I see BVB lining up tomorrow:
The biggest squad news of the last week has been Jadon Sancho’s return to fitness. Because he came off the bench on Wednesday, I think Jadon Sancho is going to start this time. It might be rushing Sancho back, but he was absolutely electric on Wednesday, serving as a clear reminder of exactly what he brings to the team, and this game is about as important as it gets.
There are also some key names missing through injury. Witsel, Zagadou, and Moukoko are all out for the season, and Delaney is out with an Achilles tendon injury. Mats Hummels will also be unavailable after making an incredibly dumb challenge in the Union game, receiving his fifth yellow of the season, and suffering a one-game suspension.
I think Dortmund will run with Emre Can at center back, as the alternatives are relatively limited at this point, but I think they’ll bolster the backline with the more defensively sound Lukasz Piszczek at right back, as opposed to Mateu Morey or Thomas Meunier. This also seems more likely thanks to Piszczek’s good performances in the last two games.
I’m torn between the slightly pessimistic view that the game will end in a draw, or the belief that BVB will get the job done. This game is really hard to call. However, I think BVB’s tendency to play up (or down) to their opponent will shine through, and Wolfsburg’s quality will force Dortmund to bring their A-game. I still think they will just about miss out on Champions League football, but it won’t be because of this game.
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Wolfsburg