After what was perhaps the worst month for Borussia Dortmund in recent history, the side looks to right the ship against Stuttgart
Like any good wrestling match, the “babyface” (good guy) gets most of the offence first and the “heel” takes the punishment. This later gets reversed and the babyface takes the abuse only to make the big “Hulk Hogan comeback” and win the match. BVB started strong, but since, have accrued six weeks of poor results. Now is the time for Dortmund to “Hulk up” and get the positive momentum back!
Historically, VfB Stuttgart have been a kind opponent to Borussia Dortmund. At this very moment though, BVB are perhaps the most vulnerable side in the Bundesliga. The month of October was not only unkind, it was downright destructive. This is a must-win match for Dortmund, make no mistake about it.
The Black and Yellows will be without leading goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for this match, as he decided to do his best Ousmane Dembélé impersonation and come to team trainings at his leisure, i.e., late. In a way, I find his absence exciting, as Peter Bosz will now be forced to instruct other players to go for goal rather than the primary focus being on Auba.
As a newly promoted side, Stuttgart “play it safe” for most of the 90 minutes. Their primary objective is to not concede the first goal. For this reason, they are not overly aggressive and instead rely heavily on counter-attacks.
The one thing BVB do not want to happen is for VfB to get an early lead. Stuttgart are not only capable of holding a 1:0 lead for long stretches, but additionally, BVB’s confidence has been decimated over the past 45 days. It is absolutely critical for Dortmund to score the first goal. It has been quite transparent to see the doubt creep into the BVB player’s heads once they fall behind.
On paper this is a match BVB should comfortably win as the quality of rosters is unquestionably in their favor. Stuttgart features a blend of good Bundesliga players mixed with players who are arguably better-suited for the second tier. Simon Terodde, VfB’s leading scorer in the 2nd. Bundesliga last season, has been almost invisible in front of goal this season, having only scored two.
Three Stuttgart players to watch out for are Chadrac Akolo, Benjamin Pavard, and the highly-experienced Holger Badstuber. Within these players lies the quality of the Stuttgart lineup. Longtime Bundesliga veteran Daniel Ginczek also has moments when he can be dangerous in attack, though at this moment, considering how poorly the BVB defence has performed over the past six weeks, it is my belief that even the most average attacking player could be a threat in Roman Bürki’s domain.
Stuttgart manager Hannes Wolf has a long and successful history with Borussia Dortmund having guided the U17 and U19 squads to multiple German championships. He is very familiar with the club and perhaps has some decent insight on what to expect not necessarily tactically from BVB, but more so on an individual player basis.
The international break put a stop to the bleeding for Dortmund at least in terms of physically losing matches on a weekly basis. It has hopefully given certain players such as Julian Weigl, Raphael Guerreiro, and André Schürrle (all of whom are coming back from long injuries) more time to learn Peter Bosz’s system.
The Peter Bosz 4-3-3 formation is treading on thin ice right now. Sports, especially high-stakes football is not the place where patient fans and front offices reside. There will have to be some major progression made between now and the winter break if Bosz is to retain the confidence of the BVB faithful, many of which are already tired of him and his philosophies.
Tactically speaking, Bosz has not been a complete failure. However, the individual qualities of his players do not always match up with the roles they are asked to perform on the pitch. A prime example is Andriy Yarmolenko’s inability to play a pressing style of football. Simply put, this is not an area where this player excels. This results in the entire team suffering.
To combat this, BVB can certainly buy a player or two in the January transfer window to better suit Bosz’s player assignments. Until then, he will have to make due with what is offered to him personnel-wise.
Dortmund will beat Stuttgart on the road at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. They will get back to basics and I believe will have a more free-flowing, creative offence, with Aubameyang missing the match. I expect solid efforts from Mario Götze, Christian Pulisic and Maxi Philipp. A potential front line of Philipp, Yarmolenko and Pulisic accompanied by a midfield of Götze, Shinji Kagawa, and Weigl has the potential to be highly efficient.
The back line still concerns me as Dan-Axel Zagadou and Sokratis have inspired very little confidence in the past few weeks, both for BVB and in the case of Sokratis, his Greek national side being destroyed in their World Cup qualification playoff against Croatia. Unless something changes, I believe the best days of Sokratis are now firmly behind him, much like the injured Lukasz Piszczek.
PREDICTION: VfB Stuttgart 1:2 Borussia Dortmund
VfB: Zieler – Baumgartl, Pavard, Badstuber – Beck, Insua – Gentner, Ascacibar – Asano, Akolo – Ginczek
Manager: Hannes Wolf
BVB: Bürki – Bartra, Sokratis, Zagadou, Guerreiro – Kagawa, Weigl, M. Götze – Pulisic, Philipp, Yarmolenko
Manager: Peter Bosz