The last time RB Leipzig met Borussia Dortmund they ended BVB’s two-and-a-half year home win streak in the Bundesliga. The last time BVB traveled to Leipzig they lost as Leipzig made their top flight home debut.
Borussia Dortmund is just one of many clubs that have struggled against RB Leipzig, the new kids on the block in the Bundesliga. And with good reason, the Red Bulls are good!
Ralf Rangnick built them and Ralph Hasenhüttl manages them. It is typical to see RBL line up in a 4-2-2-2 formation, using a specific set of actions from the opposition as triggers for their press.
As an Aufsteiger (promoted side) it is always common to face a sterner challenge during the second season in the Bundesliga. RBL is no exception to this rule, encountering more difficult challenges from their league opponents in 2017-18.
Despite this, the club still sits only three points back of Dortmund for second place in the Bundesliga and a mere one point from a second consecutive qualification to Champions League.
Timo Werner, the German international striker, is by far their most dangerous goal threat. He can score off of a quick counter with lightning speed. Joining him in Leipzig’s attack is Yussuf Poulsen. He is the more physical of the two players.
This gives the Red Bulls a perfect balance of speed and strength at the spearhead of their attack. The midfield is equally as skilled as it features 2016-17 Bundesliga assist leader Emil Forsberg and the crafty Marcel Sabitzer.
Future Liverpool star Naby Keita will miss the remainder of this season. Luckily for Leipzig, they have good depth. A double-pivot of Kevin Kampl and Diego Demme should feature in front of the RBL back four of Bernardo, Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano, and Lukas Klostermann.
Leipzig, like Dortmund, often have the lion share of possession. They prefer an attacking style, quite often from either wing. Their build-up play usually leads to scoring chances due to their brilliant use of the through ball.
Where the Bulls struggle is also similar to BVB, namely, in defence. They are poor at protecting a lead and struggle to defend against counter-attacks. Their greatest offensive strength is perhaps their most glaring defensive weakness.
But does Leipzig need to worry? Borussia Dortmund have certainly not been lighting the world on fire with their goal-scoring as of late. A Marco Reus sitter against Augsburg was one of only two shots on target on Monday night.
Reus’ goal against ‘Gladbach was the only score from either side two weeks ago. Thanks to a still-not-100-percent winger coming back from a severe knee injury, BVB has four points as opposed to one, over their two previous matches.
Peter Stöger is now the third BVB manager in the past year to claim that the players lack the necessary passion to win matches consistently. Are players ignoring his tactical instructions from the touchline? Has he lost the respect of the squad? Did he ever have it to begin with?
These are all important questions Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and Sporting Director Michael Zorc must answer this June. A possible “off-loading” of players could be on the horizon for die Schwarz-Gelben.
As it pertains to this match, the current players will have to be enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, the lack of an offensive concept as well as the inefficiency in their build-up play continues to plague BVB on a weekly basis, with little sign of improving.
Dortmund will again rely heavily on the individual talent of Mario Götze, Marco Reus, Michy Batshauyi, and Andre Schürrle among others, to create chances from open play. This is hardly a sustainable nor desired way for the squad to play, but again, it is seemingly the only option at the moment.
Do not be surprised to see a major change in the back line as Sokratis has proven unequivocally that he is no longer worthy of being an every-week starting centre-back selection for Dortmund. It is time to give the young Manuel Akanji his chance while partnering with Ömer Toprak.
It was Sokratis after all, who lost his man (Kevin Danso) on the corner kick that saw Augsburg score the equalizer this week. This has happened on more than one occasion this year for the Greek defender.
If Akanji does not get the start it could be a long day at the office for the BVB back line with Werner, Sabitzer, and Forsberg launching their quick and deadly counter-attacks. Dortmund will eventually commit an error, and when they do, that is when Leipzig will strike.
In attack, expect a flurry of crosses from either wing and a frustrated Mario Götze, whose passes will be intercepted more times than not by the anticipating Leipzig defenders.
BVB’s not-so-secret weapon Michy Batshuayi has become a focal point of the opposition over the past few weeks, as is evidenced by his decrease in touches against Atalanta and Augsburg.
There is little Dortmund can do though. When you fail to implement a disciplined offensive philosophy on the pitch, your players’ talents can and will only take you so far. This will change in the off-season as BVB will likely enter into a major transitional period.
PREDICTION: RB Leipzig 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
RBL: Gulasci, Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Bernardo – Kampl, Demme – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Poulsen, Werner
Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl
BVB: Bürki – Piszczek, Akanji, Toprak, Schmelzer – Dahoud, Weigl – Schürrle, Götze, Reus – Batshuayi
Manager: Peter Stöger