In a crucial stretch of the Hinrunde, BVB visit a place that has been rather unkind in recent years for a rematch of the 2017 DFB-Pokal final.
For those who are not keeping tabs on Dortmund’s away form, the past few seasons let us quickly take a look at the main reason why so many BVB supporters are nervous about a trip to the Commerzbank-Arena. In their previous three trips to play Eintracht Frankfurt, the Black and Yellows have picked up exactly zero points. They have not won a Bundesliga match at Frankfurt since September 1st, 2013.
To make matters worse, BVB are fresh off of an underwhelming draw against what can absolutely be considered “subpar” competition in the UEFA Champions League. Prior to that, Dortmund’s 41-match home unbeaten streak was broken by RB Leipzig following a 2-3 loss last Saturday evening.
Peter Bosz did not necessarily get his tactics wrong the previous two matches (APOEL Nicosia), rather, certain players made huge individual mistakes which led to Dortmund’s demise. It can also be argued that his hard-headed ways and unwillingness to make crucial adjustments have led to BVB’s poor run of form since returning from the international break. Or is it the 4-3-3 formation itself and the “Dutch” way of doing things that are simply past their expiration dates in modern football?
Regardless, Borussia Dortmund, who boasted a comfortable five-point lead over hated rivals Bayern München only seven days ago, now seem to be in panic mode. Moreover, the Bavarians appear to be back in 2012-13 form after re-hiring the man responsible for their most successful season ever, Jupp Heynckes. While BVB must look in their rearview mirrors at Bayern, who are now only two points back in the table. Directly in front of them are a gritty Eintracht Frankfurt side, who themselves have been in decent form recently.
Eintracht have been the “rental unit” of the Bundesliga the past few seasons. They have had a lot of players on loan, but have also signed some decent talent as well. In particular that have found offensive consistency with forwards Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic (both have three goals to their credit this season). For SGE, offensive consistency is key, as they have been less than effective over the past two seasons at converting chances. During the Rückrunde last season, The Eagles managed only 11 goals while dropping from third to eleventh in the table.
Frankfurt like to control the ball in the opposition’s half which may be difficult against Dortmund, who themselves prefer the same approach. In addition, Frankfurt’s midfield players lack the skill of those from Dortmund, which will make it extremely difficult for them to keep possession. Instead, I expect SGE to use the long ball combined with a healthy amount of crosses to create chances. This along with counter-attacks down the wings will be their best chance to inflict damage upon the BVB defence.
Speaking of Dortmund’s defence, the back line is in shambles at the moment. Jeremy Toljan was made to look foolish last week against RB Leipzig’s Bruma, but will once again start from the right-back position for the injured Lukasz Piszczek. Sokratis is suspended as a result of his red card he acquired last weekend and Ömer Toprak also sustained a minor injury during the week, though it should not prevent him from playing. The good news for BVB’s back four is that Frankfurt have only managed eight goals in eight matches. While Haller and Rebic may be dangerous in attack, the side as whole, has not been.
Mario Götze looked absolutely amazing last week against the Red Bulls. It was his best performance yet since his long recovery from his metabolic disorder last season. If he can maintain his form then Dortmund truly have, as CEO Hans Joachim-Watzke put it: “An additional quality summer signing.” Who was not great this past week, was Julian Weigl, though I do not expect this to repeat itself. Everyone is entitled to a poor performance on occasion. Weigl is a confident lad who will be on point this week as he too looks to regain top-form after a long period spent recovering from an ankle injury.
Dortmund’s attack will again feature the three-headed monster of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andrey Yarmolenko, and Maximilian Phillip. If Aubameyang had even a slightly higher conversion percentage on his shots, or better yet, was stronger at his penalty-taking, he would be miles ahead in the race for the Torjägerkanone. This group seems a bit inconsistent. They are fully capable of dismantling the opposing defence, as was on display against Borussia Mönchengladbach a few weeks ago. They are equally able to squander a healthy amount of chances due to poor finishing and bad timing. Consistency is the key.
Borussia Dortmund are shaken right now. They have not had that winning feeling in three weeks now, and can see Bayern München coming at them like a freight train. This is a classic trap game for BVB, with their minds perhaps now more focused on not giving up their precious Bundesliga lead, rather than the opponents who stand directly in front of them. Expect Dortmund to once again take the lead early, only to concede shortly thereafter. Frankfurt will then build a human shield around their goal and gladly take the one point from the match.
PREDICTION: Eintracht Frankfurt 1:1 Borussia Dortmund
SGE: Hradecky – Russ, Hasebe, Abraham – Chandler, K-P Boateng, Willems – de Guzman, Gacinovic – Haller, Rebic
Manager: Niko Kovac
BVB: Bürki – Toljan, Zagadou, Bartra, Schmelzer – Castro, Sahin, M. Götze – Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Philipp
Manager: Peter Bosz