After two consecutive wins to start the Peter Stöger era, BVB have looked rather pedestrian in their past two matches against Wolfsburg and Hertha Berlin. The defence has been mostly repaired but the offence is suffering greatly.
After months of the Peter Bosz high-press, we are now seeing a more reserved effort from Stöger’s Dortmund. It is now very common to see the first BVB defenders attempt to press only after their opponents have crossed midfield.
A compact Black and Yellow squad defending primarily in their half of the pitch has certainly aided in conceding fewer goals. The once lethal BVB offence, however, has been reduced to a unit that is struggling to create clear-cut chances and find the back of the net.
The biggest problem with this is BVB’s next opponents: SC Freiburg. Manager Christian Streich constructed a brilliant match plan to completely fluster the Dortmund attack in their Hinrunde match.
Even with only ten men on the pitch after an early red card, Bosz and company were unable to break the deadlock. Certainly, BVB dominated possession as well as shots. These are negated stats, however, when none of those shots find their target.
Streich’s “park the bus” strategy he applied against Die Schwarz-Gelben would have made José Mourinho proud. Ultimately, it was the only match in the first seven in which Dortmund dropped points.
Freiburg has given BVB issues in the past. This is largely due to Streich being a master at getting the most out of each player that wears the SC Freiburg shirt.
The difference this time around will be that the match is taking place at the Westfalenstadion. Despite their lack of form this season over the previous two at their historic stadium, BVB is a different beast in front of the yellow wall.
I would expect to see a similar lineup as the one we saw last week against Hertha. Although the team hardly performed at a high level, there were glimpses of hope during the second half.
The Shinji Kagawa/Mario Götze (8/10) combination still brings excitement in my opinion. Having these two playmakers on the pitch at the same time maximizes BVB’s scoring ability from midfield; while Götze’s creativity and excellent passing give Dortmund their best chance to make the Freiburg “bus” move.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be slated for the bench as his pending Arsenal transfer still looms heavy over the events of Saturday. The back four will be identical to last week with the quartet of Sokratis-Piszczek-Toljan-Toprak occupying the space in front of goal.
The BVB youth movement in attack should continue as Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho should get the start on the wings, while the centre-forward position could be open to a number of candidates. Andriy Yarmolenko, Andre Schürrle, and Alexander Isak could all get the call to spearhead the BVB offence.
This will not be an easy match for Borussia Dortmund. Christian Streich knows exactly how to lineup against The Black and Yellows as well as which tactics are most effective. BVB will struggle to break through the deep-sitting Freiburg defence and will rely heavily on the skills of Götze, Kagawa, Pulisic and Sancho to create quality chances.
Eventually, Dortmund will break through, as they so often do when playing at home. Despite missing key players Freiburg has been able to ascend to the 12th place in the table after featuring in the drop zone for much of the Hinrunde.
Streich will instruct his players to only go forward if the perfect opportunity presents itself. That moment will no doubt happen at some point over the course of the 90 minutes. BVB must guard heavily against the Freiburg counter-attack.
Despite a vast improvement in recent weeks, Dortmund always seems to allow at least one ball to slip past the back four and into Bürki’s net. So too will be the case on Saturday as another frustrating draw awaits Stöger’s side.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 SC Freiburg
BVB: Bürki – Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan – M. Götze, Weigl, Kagawa – C. Pulisic, Yarmolenko, Sancho
Manager: Peter Stöger
SCF: Gikiewicz – Söyüncü, Gulde, Kempf – P. Stenzel, R. Koch, C. Günter – Abrashi – Höler, Haberer – Petersen
Manager: Christian Streich