Borussia Dortmund will face Bayer Leverkusen this weekend following the conclusion first international break of the season. The squad returned to Dortmund in typical fashion after an international break — injured and overplayed. Dortmund will likely have to face Leverkusen without several key players, including Gio Reyna, Thorgan Hazard, Emre Can, and possibly Thomas Meunier. Marco Reus also picked up a knock during the break, but reports suggest that he will be available on Saturday. Mats Hummels should also return to the side after his long absence.
In conjunction with the injury situation, it also doesn’t help BVB’s cause that Bayer Leverkusen have gotten off to a flying start to begin their Bundesliga campaign. Despite drawing their first match against Union Berlin, new coach Gerardo Seoane has seemingly brought the Leverkusen attack to new heights. In their last 2 matches, the black and red side have scored 8 goals and conceded only 1.
In particular, the new coaching staff has unlocked winger Moussa Diaby, who has been incredibly effective through the first three matches. Though Diaby has shown flashes of incredible athleticism and skill in previous seasons, he was often wasteful in the final third. This season has been a completely different story, with the PSG youth product bagging 2 goals and an assist in the first 3 matches. If Diaby continues this form on Saturday, he will be a significant problem for Dortmund’s struggling fullbacks.
With Reyna out, Julian Brandt is his obvious replacement in Marco Rose’s diamond. In pre-season, before he contracted COVID, it seemed like this was Brandt’s role to lose. Saturday, against his former club, will be his chance to reclaim it. Upfront, we should see the normal attacking trio of Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, and Donyell Malen. After having a bit of a breakout game against Hoffenheim, don’t be surprised if Malen gets his debut goal for BVB this weekend.
Meunier’s availability is questionable, but if there is even a chance he can play, it’s better than Felix Passlack being thrown to the wolves again this season. Mats Hummels should return to the side should be a huge boon to the defense, which has been sub-par to this point in the season.
In recent times, the matchups against Leverkusen have been absolute goal-fests, and I don’t expect that to change tomorrow. With both sides being on the attack, players like Haaland, Malen, and Diaby will have plenty of space to run into, which should make for an exciting match. This will be an end-to-end game with lots of good chances for both sides. As such, it’s a difficult one to predict, but I’ll be an optimist and say Dortmund wins 4-2. I doubt BVB will be the best side for most of the game, but with Haaland up front, that doesn’t always matter.