For their fourth match in the span of ten days, Borussia Dortmund host 2. Liga winners SC Freiburg. While the Friday game gives Dortmund an extra day of rest for the Real Madrid game on Tuesday, die Schwatzgelben will need to be sharp if they’re going to beat Freiburg.
Prior to their relegation in the 2014-2015 season, Dortmund had won ten straight matches against the Breisgau side by a combined score of 32:4, with the last defeat coming in May 2010. It is safe to say that Dortmund have had Freiburg’s number.
With such a jam-packed schedule that Dortmund can’t even do public training anymore, Thomas Tuchel is likely to rotate his side once again ahead of the clash against Real Madrid. With Marc Bartra likely out for a few weeks with his adductor injury, former Freiburg defender Matthias Ginter will start in his place. Ginter came on against Wolfsburg at center back and didn’t exactly look comfortable against a lively Wolves attack. Ginter should be benefitting from the recent flurry of center back exposure he’s received lately, and should not be too troubled by Freiburg, as he has looked better against opponents of lesser quality, such as Stuttgart and Darmstadt.
In his pregame press conference, Tuchel confirmed that Andre Schürrle has been doing some running in training but is still doubtful for the Freiburg game. If he’s fit, an appearance off the bench would be the most likely scenario for Schürrle, who shouldn’t be risked as he is one of very few experienced Dortmund wingers that will be needed against Real Madrid. After sitting out against Darmstadt, Mario Götze will almost certainly make his home debut since rejoining the club.
Shinji Kagawa and Sebastian Rode are two candidates to find themselves back in the starting line-up. Both have been out of favor since disappointing performances in the Mainz game and Leipzig game, respectively, but Rode has looked lively in a few substitute appearances against Darmstadt and Wolfsburg. Dortmund’s depth this season has seen quality players like Kagawa been restricted to the bench, and with fringe players like Gonzalo Castro and Rode performing better than him, it’s hard to see where he fits into the team at the moment.
Despite a very out of character and lackluster performance against Wolfsburg, Julian Weigl needs to start this game. Weigl is crucial to this team and his absence could really benefit Freiburg. Sebastian Rode, the most likely Weigl replacement, isn’t the most press-resistant midfielder and that weakness would almost certainly be exploited against a Christian Streich team. Weigl has played every game after the opener against Mainz and might benefit from a rest, but Tuchel will know the possible consequences of leaving Dortmund’s most influential player on the bench.
Tuchel: "Freiburg can tactically adjust to their opposition. They've got automatism due to continuity on the coaching position." #bvbscf
— Stefan Buczko (@StefanBuczko) September 22, 2016
Dortmund’s attack is most likely where the majority of rotation will take place. Gonzalo Castro has been impressive in his past two games, scoring twice and assisting three goals. With the versatility of Raphael Guerreiro, both could feature in Dortmund’s attack. Guerreiro is quickly becoming a must-start player, and he could shift over to left wing while Castro occupies the “8” position. Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic, and Ousmane Dembele are all competing for one or two spots in the team, and Tuchel might opt for Mor after Dembélé and Pulisic have seen a lot of action of late.
Thomas Tuchel has shown that he knows how to rotate this team effectively and keep as many players as possible in top physical shape. There’s something to be said when even the fringe players are performing at a high level, and that’s what’s happening for Dortmund right. Emre Mor, Adrian Ramos, Gonzalo Castro, Felix Passlack, and Sebastian Rode all are performing well enough to deserve starts, but all have players ahead of them who are simply better or vital to the team.
Predicted Dortmund Line-Up: Bürki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer; Weigl; Guerreiro, Rode, Castro, Götze; Aubameyang