On Friday night Borussia Dortmund are hosting Hertha BSC in an attempt to regain the second place in the Bundesliga.
Thomas Tuchel’s team will be without at least ten players on Friday and those injured ten would probably only need a keeper to challenge for a top-half finish themselves. Considering how hard it usually is for Dortmund to beat Hertha, the loss of quality will only make things worse.
Unavailable for Hertha: Bender, Reus, Durm, Subotic, Ramos, Castro, Schürrle, Sokratis, Guerreiro, Piszczek. 10 in total #BVBBSC
— Stefan Buczko (@StefanBuczko) 13. Oktober 2016
In some more positive news for Dortmund: Marc Bartra is, as of now, ready to be on the pitch on Friday and Dortmund therefore still have two healthy centre-backs.
The team from Berlin isn’t immune to injuries either and will be without Vladimir Darida, Peter Pekarik, Fabian Lustenberger and Julian Schieber. Especially the last name on the list is soothing for BVB fans, although we would never wish an injury upon anyone. But this way the nightmare of 2014 won’t be replicated.
As Hertha coach Pal Dardai revealed on Wednesday’s press conference, Lustenberger’s absence means that Niklas Stark would be moved up from the heart of defence into defensive midfield, while United States international John Anthony Brooks would assume the centre-back position next to Sebastian Langkamp.
— Hertha BSC (@HerthaBSC) 13. Oktober 2016
The capital club had a flying start in the Bundesliga, with three wins out of three games, but hit a rough patch with a loss to Bayern and a draw to Frankfurt. They did, however, get back to their winning ways just before the international break with a 2-0 home victory over Hamburg. They currently sit in second place, holding a one point advantage over Friday’s hosts.
Dortmund are looking to bounce back after the loss against Leverkusen, but unfortunately the DFL decided that it would make sense to have a match day on a Friday after an international break. They also decided it would make even more sense to make BVB play on a Friday, a team with lots of players featuring for their national teams. Much like they did to Bayern after the first international break.
To make things worse, the opponent will be Hertha and those games aren’t only hard to win, as mentioned earlier, but they usually tend to be rather dull as well. Because, well, they include Hertha.
Under Dardai they revolutionised their football from being just dull to being dull and successful. Hertha know how to defend disciplined and compact for 90 minutes, while still having good individual quality and speed upfront. In fact, they are ruthless with 42.3% converted chances.
For Dortmund it will be important to find to their passing and positioning early as well as a good counter-pressing to minimise counter attacks for Hertha’s fast wingers.
Without Raphael Guerreiro and Gonzalo Castro as well as Shinji Kagawa and Mario Götze coming back from international duty very late, one might assume that creativity in the middle of the pitch will be hard to come by. Especially against a team like Hertha that will complicate matters.
It’ll be interesting what Tuchel has in mind for this kind of game and it should be a big test for him and the team. One idea might be to focus even more on creating one on one’s on the wing for Dembélé and Pulisic or Mor.
After all, and despite all the difficulties surrounding this match it still has to be Dortmund’s goal to beat Hertha and put a direct rival for the CL spots behind them come Friday evening. Hopefully the Westfalenstadion can play a part in that, as the fans could see their team setting a new record by staying 25 league games unbeaten on home soil. The new squad depth will certainly be of help in this case.
Predicted lineup: Bürki; Passlack, Ginter, Bartra, Schmelzer; Weigl; Pulisic, Rode, Götze, Dembélé; Aubameyang.