Welcome back to a Match Preview! Borussia Dortmund (and us fans) now have eighteen matches to forget the last six months and fix the colossal mess that Edin Terzic and Co have created. Fortunately for Dortmund, they avoid a difficult match in the league’s restart and face off against SV Darmstadt. Darmstadt find themselves in last place and their only two victories came back to back on October 1st and October 13th against Werder Bremen and Augsburg respectively. They have since gone nine Bundesliga games without a victory and have been unable to add any reinforcements over the winter break. Darmstadt have the worst goal difference in the league at -21 and have conceded the most goals with 41 against. They have one thing going for them: they host Terzic’s men tomorrow. Dortmund have been known to pants themselves when traveling to away teams in the relegation zone and we can only hope that tomorrow will be different.
As for Borussia Dortmund themselves, they need points! The side find themselves six points off of coveted fourth place and fifteen points off of high-flying Leverkusen. Reinforcements in the form of Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen have put some win in the sails but hopefully, the side will come out with new ideas after their sunny vacation in Marbella. As for injuries, Julian Ryerson, Marius Wolf, Felix Nmecha, and Karim Adeyemi will all miss tomorrow’s game while Ramy Bensebaini and Sebastian Haller are preparing for AFCON with their respective national teams. It is not an ideal injury situation but Dortmund should still be able to field a side strong enough to win this game.
Player to Watch: Tim Skarke
It is difficult to pick a player to watch for teams like Darmstadt because they usually do not have a star player to point to. For Darmstadt, this problem is exacerbated further by injuries to their two best midfielders; Fabiran Nurnberger and Marvin Mehlem. That leads me to go with Tim Skarke as my pick for Player to Watch. Skarke is on loan from Union Berlin where he played as a left winger and is now seeing action on the left side of a strike partnership with Luca Pfeiffer. He has racked up six of Darmstadt’s twenty goals and is the team’s lead goalscorer. Skarke has been converted to a striker but he still has the tendencies of a left winger. He spends a lot of his time in the wide areas and will cut inside. The majority of his shots come from outside the opponent's penalty area on the left side but none of his goals have been from outside the box. He has completely overperformed his xG with six goals from 1.68 xG. Thomas Meunier and Mats Hummels will have to be wary of Skarke and his high defensive numbers as he presses up the field.
Predicted Lineup: 4-2-3-1
I predict Terzic will be rolling his usual 4-2-3-1 concoction with a lot of the starters from the midweek friendly against Standard Liege retaining their starting lineups. I am confident Gregor Kobel, Mats Hummels, and Nico Schlotterbeck will be in the lineup while Thomas Meunier will play on the right side. Ian Maatsen should make his debut for the club considering Bensebaini is with the Algerian national team, Ryerson is injured, Wolf is injured, and even Dortmund’s U23 left-back, Guillermo Bueno, is injured. Midfield will see Brandt, Sabitzer, and Can. Attack, I am expecting Malen and Fullkrug to start with either Jamie Bynoe-Gittens or Jadon Sancho on that left side. Both could claim to start this game. I think Sancho will be given the nod because Terzic is nothing if not a sucker for drama.
Prediction: 5-1 Borussia Dortmund
That’s right! Dortmund is back. We are going to absolutely thrash Darmstadt tomorrow with a Jadon Sancho brace, Brandt goal, Malen goal, and Reus goal to top it all off. Ian Maatsen will assist all five goals. Sure, Darmstadt will probably score one because Dortmund loves to generate angst but rock and roll football is back and everything is happy again. At least until next week's 1-0 defeat to Koln.
Let me know your thoughts below!