You thought the midweek matches were over, didn’t you?
Two weekends ago, Borussia Dortmund’s match against Mainz was postponed, following a deluge of COVID infections in the Mainz camp. The game was delayed to tomorrow, which is why before you watch Chelsea, Lille, Juventus, and Villareal battle it out in the Champions League, you get an early afternoon match in the Bundesliga, starting at 1:30 PM EST.
For those of you who have convinced yourselves that there’s still a Bundesliga title to be won, a four point gap would feel much, much smaller than a seven point gap with a game in hand, especially with only eight games remaining. This means that BVB can make it a competitive race for the Meisterschale, at least on paper, with a win tomorrow.
Mainz may have enough players to not need to forfeit, but they’re still far from full health. According to Ruhr Nachrichten, numerous Mainz players, including new signing Delano Burgzorg, are still suffering from lingering health effects related to COVID-19. While BVB’s COVID scare was nowhere near the scale of that faced by Mainz, the squad is still absolutely ravaged by injuries and illness. Since the match on Sunday, the only changes to the squad have been the addition of the U-23 players Lennard Maloney and Antonios Papadopulos, two center backs who could fill in for either Marin Pongracic or Emre Can.
Furthermore, while Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna did come off the bench against Bielefeld, RN has predicted that they still aren’t fit enough to start and run out for 60-90 minutes. We’ll probably see either of them come off the bench again.
Once again, Marco Rose’s choices for building a lineup are severely limited. The squad I have is identical to the squad that played on Sunday, except for one change. I thought Julian Brandt played very well when he came off the bench on Sunday, so I think that Marco Rose may choose to play him over Thorgan Hazard on the left wing.
While BVB did bring up Papadopulos and Maloney, I would not be surprised if Rose uses the same back line that he used against Bielefeld, if only because they actually managed to keep a clean sheet, and they should have at least some experience playing together.
With all the injuries and infections, games like these are impossible to predict. I’ll go with a 1-1 draw so I don’t jinx a win.