Is there anything better than Champions League football at the Westfalenstadion? Everything points to a very enthralling match in Dortmund today, as BVB look to pull off their second win against Sevilla in as many weeks. The Yellow Wall, hopefully still buzzing after Anthony Modeste’s last-minute equalizer against Bayern Munich on Saturday, should be in full voice this evening, giving the team a much-needed emotional boost against a determined opponent.
With a win, and assuming FC Copenhagen don’t pull off an upset for the ages against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund could lock in their trip to the Champions League Knockout Stage today, only match day four of the group stage. This result would already be a massive improvement over last season’s disappointing relegation to the Europa League, and could also give BVB the option to rest key players in the remaining two matches of the Champions League group stage.
If only it were easy. Last week’s match showed that Sevilla, even when their talent doesn’t shine through, never back down from a fight. Wednesday’s match in Andalusia was a brutal slog filled with violent clashes in midfield and yellow cards left and right, on both sides. The 4-1 scoreline paints something of a rosy picture: although BVB definitely deserved the win, the contest was much closer in reality, with Sevilla controlling significant portions of the 90 minute game. If it weren’t for several key saves by goalkeeper Alexander Meyer, the game could’ve been much closer. Dortmund will need to repeat their valiant effort on Saturday today if they are going to seal a trip to the knockout stage.
Sevilla’s loss to Dortmund was the final nail in the coffin for Julen Lopetegui, who was promptly sacked the following day. Jorge Sampaoli, a coaching veteran with a long resume including the Argentine National Team, Olympique Marseille, and a previous stint at Sevilla, has taken over. His squad managed a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao over the weekend, so are still looking for the first win of his tenure.
According to Edin Terzic’s press conference, courtesy of Ruhr Nachrichten, there is one definite return to the lineup for BVB: Thomas Meunier. The Belgian right back missed Saturday’s game against Bayern Munich due to an unspecified “personal issue”, but he has returned to the squad today. Meanwhile, Gio Reyna is ready to return from his muscular injury, although he will probably start on the bench. Gregor Kobel will be a game time decision, so I’ll lean towards a “no” for him too.
There were a few aspects of BVB’s performance against Bayern that I really liked, and that Edin Terzic could repeat against Sevilla today. Even though Niklas Süle, Mats Hummels, and Nico Schlotterbeck weren’t a traditional back three (Süle was a right back), they functioned well together, and it seems that they could easily transition to a traditional back three with Meunier back in the squad. Furthermore, Moukoko and Modeste were more effective working as a team than either one was individually. Maybe the lineup could be something like this:
This, of course, would leave out Emre Can, whose physicality could be useful against Sevilla, and Karim Adeyemi, who looked very dangerous against Bayern and whose pace could be useful today. Every lineup comes with benefits and drawbacks, but this one could potentially work.
I think Saturday’s match really boosted the morale of the squad, and the home crowd should be behind them. I predict a narrow 2-1 win, with goals from Modeste and Brandt.