With two rounds left of the Europa League group stage, the match between FC Krasnodar and Dortmund could very well decide which team will end up as the winners of Group C. Dortmund won the first match 2-1, despite Krasnodar getting an early lead, but with the Germans only having a three point lead down to Krasnodar, everything is open if the Bulls manage to get the three points.
In collaboration with Ben Clark from Russianfootballnews.com, we give you the preview of the upcoming Europa League fixture.
FC KRASNODAR – Looking to secure playoff for the first time
Krasnodar’s game against Borussia Dortmund presents the Russian club with the chance to tie up qualification into the knockout rounds – with a game in hand.
Having lost only the one game in their ground – to Dortmund – it is evident that Krasnodar have shown themselves to be the second strongest team in the group despite the efforts of PAOK and Qabala. A draw away in Greece and two wins at home has given the Russian side a four point led going into this game. A win against Dortmund would remove the value of the Qabala game and would offer Krasnodar to win the group.
However, they could still lose their qualification spot if they lose both their remaining games – and PAOK win both of theirs.
The challenge of Borussia Dortmund – on paper – seems daunting. Second to the unbeatable Bayern, Dortmund have made an impressive transition from one managerial set up to another. Having said that, Krasnodar have won all four of their home games in Europe this season – scoring eleven and conceding three.
Having already qualified for the knockout rounds and being on one of the favourites to win the competition, I don’t think Dortmund will be too phased about finishing first or second. On the other hand, that is more of a priority for Krasnodar who will be aiming for qualification. The additional funds will certainly help their finances. The club was penalised last summer for failing financial fair play.
Before the weekend, Krasnodar were on an 11 game unbeaten run – five wins and six draws. In their last five, Krasnodar have won four. I wouldn’t expect the defeat at the weekend to knock their confidence too much but it has certainly stopped some of the momentum.
Krasnodar have a lot of versatility, a reason they’ve progressed so well over the years. Managed by Oleg Kononov, they’re more natural playing a possession style of play. It will be intriguing to see if Kononov goes for that approach against Dortmund. His side are at home and have been brewing with confidence in recent months so it must be an option. If he gets it wrong though, Dortmund could walk over them.
I would expect a more cautious, counter attacking approach from Krasnodar. If they lose, they still have the advantage over PAOK going into the last match day. In fact, their progression could be sealed if PAOK lose to Qabala. It seems then that it would be silly to go gung ho for a game which doesn’t have ‘MUST WIN’ labeled all over it.
The transfer was questioned but Fyodor Smolov has been their most impressive player this season. Having scored five and assisted just as many, he has been their main man this season and Dortmund’s biggest threat (words I thought I would never type).
With only one injury but a clean bill for outfield players, Oleg Kononov has the luxury of a full team for selection.
Dikan; Petrov, Granqvist, Sigurðsson, Valeshin; Ahmedov, Kaboré, Torbinski; Mamaev, Ari, Joãozinho
Having it all in their hands, I think Krasnodar will play on the counter and use the pace of their attackers to hit Dortmund. Their defence has looked more vulnerable this season than their past few and the risk of losing by three or four could prove detrimental to their season. I wouldn’t be surprised by a Krasnodar win.
DORTMUND – To Russia without the biggest stars
Dortmund just lost their second competitive match of the season, but with 29 points out of 13 matches they are comfortably sitting on second place in the league. Since Thomas Tuchel took over the Black and Yellows have recovered from a underwhelming last year under Jürgen Klopp and now look to be back to their best – at least offensively that is. While the defence surrounding club captain Mats Hummels is making headlines with lapses and individual errors, the attack is firing on all cylinders. Especially target man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been on stellar form this season, scoring 23 goals in 21 games. Unfortunately for Dortmund, he won’t be available against Krasnodar on Thursday.
Formation and style
Under Thomas Tuchel the playing style has mostly been the same. A possession based 4-3-3 / 4-1-4-1 formation with the priority on controlling the match with the full backs pushing high up the pitch to grant some width. So far this season it has been quite successful, as BVB only lost twice in 23 competitive matches, but the possession based style does not leave much room for error as the backline is easily exposed when the Black and Yellows lose the ball in build up play.
Lukasz Piszczek said on Wednesay’s press conference that “We will look to have most of the ball against Krasnodar”, which lets assume that BVB’s approach will their usual one even though they will have a tweaked line up and will only need a draw to win the group.
Borussia Dortmund left three star players at home. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus didn’t make the trip due to precautionary measures – both had slight muscular problems. Shinji Kagawa was afforded a break because of the milage he collected while being on international duty with Japan. Park Joo-ho, who scored the winner in the first leg, is not 100 percent fit after picking up an injury from the international break.
Apart from the aforementioned, only long-term injured Nuri Sahin and Erik Durm are unavailable.
There are many possibilities of how Thomas Tuchel will line up, so it’s anyone’s guess.
Since the away match to Krasnodar will probably be the toughest in the group stage, Tuchel might pick the best possible line up after all.
Weidenfeller – Schmelzer, Sokratis, Hummels, Piszczek – Gündogan, Weigl – Mkhitaryan, Castro, Januzaj – Ramos
If Borussia Dortmund show their Europa League form, FC Krasnodar will most likely find a couple of great scoring opportunities in the first quarter of an hour. Overall, BVB have failed to impress in their most recent 3-1 loss in the Bundesliga against mediocre Hamburg team.
Thomas Tuchel expects – or demands – his team to bounce back, but given that Dortmund will only need a point and have their priority on the Bundesliga, they will most likely not do too much to win this game. If Krasnodar bring their a-game the Russians should probably win this match, but there is still enough quality in this BVB team that they could flick the switch at any given time.
Expect a close and gritty encounter on Thursday evening.