After two consecutive defeats in the Supercup and the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund will be looking for a rebound this afternoon when they face TSG Hoffenheim, for a marquee Friday evening match in the Bundesliga. Today’s game could have huge implications: a win would allow BVB to go into the international break with momentum, whereas a defeat or a draw would only add to the frustration surrounding the opening phase of the season.
TSG Hoffenheim have gotten off to a decent start to the Bundesliga. They actually sit in second place in the Bundesliga thanks to a lopsided victory over Augsburg that inflated their goal differential. While they’re sure to fall as the season progresses, their results thus far demonstrate that they can be a dangerous side to play against. Add that to their history as a constant thorn in BVB’s side, and this could be a tough match.
The thorniest of all the thorns, of course, is Andrej Kramaric. One of the Bundesliga’s MVP’s last season, the Croatian forward has a particularly prolific record against Borussia Dortmund. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone what happened last June... but I’ll do it anyway:
Despite Kramaric’s goal-scoring prowess, he actually isn’t Hoffenheim’s current scoring leader. That honor belongs to none other than Jacob Bruun Larsen, who grabbed a goal in both Bundesliga matches this season. Jacob Bruun Larsen... how’s that for a throwback? With these attacking players and a decent midfield featuring Sebastian Rudy and Christoph Baumgartner, there’s no doubt that Hoffenheim are a decent squad, even without electric winger Ihlas Bebou, who is currently injured. Today’s match won’t be easy by any means.
As I mentioned above, BVB will be desperately looking for a rebound from the past week’s two defeats. Unfortunately, the squad’s injury woes will again be a barrier standing in the way of victory. While Thomas Meunier has recovered from COVID and should be ready to start at right back, Mats Hummels suffered a setback in his injury recovery and will be forced to sit another day. Nico Schulz is out, so Raphael Guerreiro will have to play through whatever rust he may be experiencing from his injury earlier in the month. On the attack, Thorgan Hazard is still suffering from lingering muscle problems, so he will need to sit as well. The other sliver of good news is that Emre Can is healthy and should be ready to return to the squad.
As you can see, my predicted back line includes a caveat. Rose mentioned in his press conference yesterday the possibility of a back three. While I ultimately think he’ll stick with the back four, I wanted to mention the three-man back line just in case.
This performance will be a big test for Borussia Dortmund. Donyell Malen has yet to hit his stride with BVB, and Haaland will be looking to break his astounding two game scoreless streak. Hopefully with reinforcements arriving on the back line, BVB will be more successful — which brings me to my predictions.
Oh God, We’re Screwed
There’s just no way we win today, right? Kramaric and Hoffenheim always manage to eat our lunch, and this time there’s the additional cosmic irony of Jacob Bruun Larsen likely starting. You just know that JBL, who was a total non-factor in 99% of appearances in black and yellow, is going to have the performance of his life today. I normally like to think positively, but I’m starting to think that it might be better to be the surprised pessimist than the disappointed optimist.
Prediction: 3-2 Hoffenheim