After a 4-4 loss to Schalke 04 in the Revierderby, Dortmund try their luck with a streaking Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena.
Unbeaten in their previous eight Bundesliga matches, Bayer Leverkusen welcome an ice-cold, out-of-form Borussia Dortmund side to the BayArena in what is the next weekly stop on the Peter Bosz-sponsored Borussia Dortmund misery tour.
Leverkusen sit exactly one point back of Dortmund in the table and will leap over them into fifth place with a win on Saturday. Bayer and BVB are exact opposites at the moment in terms of form. Dortmund have two points in the league since Septemeber 30th, dropping four spots in the table. Meanwhile, Leverkusen have twelve points during that same stretch, climbing to within four points of the Champions League places, which seemed like a mere dream only weeks ago.
Heiko Herrlich has his lads playing good football at the moment. Leverkusen possesses great individual talent and still have what must be considered one of the best rosters in the Bundesliga. Their attack consisting of young sensations Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey combined with the experience of Charles Aranguiz, Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland has proven to be particularly dangerous over the past two months.
Add to this the fact that Dortmund’s defence has been increasingly on the decline over the past eight weeks, and we may have all of the ingredients in place for a football massacre at the BayArena. Though the building itself has been kind to BVB in recent years, the evidence to argue against a Borussia loss simply is not present at the moment.
Mario Götze, arguably Dortmund’s best player this season, will be out for the foreseeable future due to injury, along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will miss this match due to acquiring a silly red card towards the end of the 4-4 loss to Schalke. His replacement in the middle of attack should either be Andriy Yarmolenko or Maxi Philipp, though Peter Bosz, the brilliant tactician that he is, will likely opt for the incredibly underwhelming Andre Schürrle.
We at the Yellow Wall are like a broken record as it pertains to discussing Borussia Dortmund’s back line. Quite frankly, they are terrible. Four players who are tactically inept at playing as a high-pressing defensive line, are asked to do just that, week after week. As a result, BVB is conceding goals at an alarming rate.
At times like these, when Lukasz Piszczek is injured, Marcel Schmelzer and Sokratis are on the decline, Marc Bartra is asked to play out of position on the wing, Ömer Toprak can have his confidence so easily shaken, and Dan-Axel Zagadou lacks the experience to be an every-week performer, one can begin to truly miss the departed group of Sven Bender, Matthias Ginter and Mikel Merino. At the very least, these players would have provided depth when Dortmund most needed it.
In midfield, Mahoud Dahoud is Mario Götze’s logical replacement, though if Bosz opts for the 3-4-3 formation again, the player may again be on the bench. With Auba out, the front three will likely consist of Yarmolenko, Schürrle, and Philipp. This would push Christian Pulisic into midfield. He will likely be joined by Raphael Guerreiro, Julian Weigl, and Nuri Sahin.
On paper the Leverkusen back line look to be a formidable bunch indeed, though, in reality, they are responsible for some highly questionable decisions which has hurt the side on quite a few occasions this season. Panagiotis Retsos, Jonathan Tah, Lars Bender and Wendell should line up in front of keeper Bernd Leno with Julian Baumgartlinger occupying the “#6” position.
Inevitably Peter Bosz’ 3-4-3, or 4-3-3, (it matters not) will not help Dortmund’s slide down the Bundesliga table. Injuries to key offensive players coupled with a defence that is incapable of carrying out Bosz’ philosophy will spell doom for Die Schwarz-Gelben. The only question is how bad will this loss be? If the second half of the Revierderby defeat is any indication, it could be brutal.
In addition to all of their other woes, The Black and Yellows lack confidence, perhaps above all else. They are mentally fragile at current time and as evidenced by last week’s events, even a 4:0 lead is not a safe place for this Dortmund side. If BVB concede the first goal they are as good as beaten. If they have a lead they lose all composure if even the slightest thing goes against them, be it a booking, a goal, a corner kick, or a free kick. This Dortmund side lacks grit, plain and simple. They are a mirror of their manager, Peter Bosz, a man walking the edge of a plank on a ship that leads straight to the bottom of the ocean. Bosz looked worried on the touchline against both Tottenham and Schalke last week, and he should be.
Leverkusen will be aggressive in this match and should attack Dortmund from the onset. They are at home, a place where they have not lost all season. If Bosz continues to be outmanoeuvred by opposing managers as he was by Domenico Tedesco last week, while not making adjustments of his own, BVB will continue to suffer the same fate as they have the past eight weeks: No wins in the Bundesliga in the months of October and November.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
B04: Leno – Retsos, Tah, L. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger – Havertz, Aranguiz – Bailey, Volland, Brandt
Manager: Heiko Herrlich
BVB: Sokratis, Subotic, Schmelzer – Pulisic, Sahin, Weigl, Guerreiro – Yarmolenko, Schürrle, Philipp
Manger: (still) Peter Bosz