In a highly anticipated contest, BVB travel to the BayArena hoping to deliver a first competitive loss this season to Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen. Die Werkself have been flying this season, not like that’s news to any of you. Former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has been strutting his stuff in the managerial role, mixing sharp tactics and exquisite recruiting to create a formidable Leverkusen side that seem to be positioned to realize their potential.
As a Borussia Dortmund fan, I am not angry at Leverkusen for their success this season, nor am I afraid to call it what it really is: jealousy. It has been widely reported that all of Granit Xaka, Victor Boniface, and Alejandro Grimaldo were offered up the BVB brass this year and they were all deemed surplus to the requirements. Now in November, BVB find themselves short a defensive mid, a prolific striker, and a reliable left-back.
Nice. Fortunately, those three players haven’t been the difference makers for Leverkusen this season... or wait. Yes, they have!
Edin Terzic announced today that there is a cold bug making its way through the dressing room, having already claimed Karim Adeyemi, Niklas Süle, and Nico Schlotterbeck. Now it sounds like Salih Özcan has gone down, as well as Ramy Bensebaini. Hopefully, those players will be able to return to action, or it could mean some tough choices for Terzic.
Assuming Bensebaini is out, Terzic would be forced to shift Ryerson to the left to bring in Wolf. Adeyemi’s goal against Milan should be enough to earn him some more minutes, and I expect Reus and Fülkrug to remain in the 11.
Player to Watch: Alejandro Grimaldo
It’s hard to pick a single dangerman from this Leverkusen side, simply because they have goals coming from everywhere right now. With two goals in his last two Bundesliga outings, I’ve opted for Alejandro Grimaldo. Signed from Benfica at the expiration of his contract, Grimaldo has been a critical asset to Xabi Alonso’s side. The pace and threat of Grimaldo paired with Jeremie Frimpong in the wide back positions allows Leverkusen to move the ball forward quickly. Grimaldo has slotted seamlessly into this system and is already providing assists and goals for his side. With BVB short a few outside backs tomorrow, Grimaldo could be a real threat to a positive result.
3-2... but it is not clear in whose favor. This game will likely have goals, and some drama to boot, but predicting a winner here is challenging. Dortmund have historically done well against Die Werkself, and coming off a massive UCL success will be looking to steady the ship in the Bundesliga. The opportunity to deliver Leverkusens’ first defeat will also be a tantalizing prospect. Still, this is a great Leverkusen side, potentially their best ever. Dortmund do not have the raw talent in the side to carry them past Leverkusen, it will take something extra. Whether Terzic can draw that out of his side remains to be seen.
Can BVB overcome red-hot Leverkusen, or are Xavi Alonso’s men too hot to handle? Let us know in the comments.