Borussia Dortmund can claim third place on Sunday, going up against FSV Mainz 05 at the Opel Arena on Matchday 18. But who will he pick to get the job done?
Although Mainz have given Dortmund a hard time in almost every match since their promotion, the Black and Yellows prevailed in five of the last six away games. On Sunday, they will aim to make it six out of seven. As Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned on Wednesday from the AFCON after crashing out with hosts Gabon, and Marcel Schmelzer also being declared fit in time, only Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender will the ones Tuchel will have to make do without.
So let’s try to make an educated guess on which line-up the coach will go for on Sunday.
Okay, this one is straightforward: Roman Bürki will return to goal.
Schmelzer, Lukasz Piszczek and Sokratis Papastathopolous are probably set, assuming Tuchel will keep the back-four. What to do with the centre-back spot next to the Greek grunt? Matthias Ginter didn’t exactly cover himself in glory against Werder Bremen, as he was not only nutmegged in style by Fin Bartels but also sent a bunch of passes into no man’s land.
Marc Bartra, however, did not make the impression that he will be an upgrade during the friendlies. Go back and forth between Ginter and Bartra each matchday is probably not the way, considering a backline needs consistency to gel. So for now, I would stick with Ginter… Mikel Merino won’t be available, going by his Instagram account he did not travel with the team to Mainz.
Julian Weigl. Moving on.
Okay, this is where the fun really begins. Let’s start with the certain picks: Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembélé. Reus simply has to play against Mainz as he has their number all the way, having scored 10 goals in 15 matches against die Nullfünfer. Dembele looked off the pace against Bremen but should be ready to be the pivotal part he played towards the end of 2016.
Julian Weigl is in need of assistance in midfield, and going by the impressions from the friendlies Dembele is going to provide just that by dropping a bit deeper. He can dribble through midfield with mazy runs and create the momentum that is needed. Plus he can play a mean through ball from the half-space or the no. 10 position. When Dembele is on form, there is currently no way around the 19-year-old.
So who will take the spot on the left no. 8 spot between Reus and Dembele?
Gonzalo Castro blew his right to start against Mainz with an underwhelming performance at the Weserstadion. Shinji Kagawa made his case in the second half against Bremen, where he dropped back to assist Weigl – basically what Dembele will do. Having a fluid dynamic of the number eights that come to aid Weigl and interlink in midfield is definitely a plus, but as harsh as it is on the Japanese, I believe Mario Götze is even better for that role. It will probably be Raphael Guerreiro in the future, but I don’t think his health should be risked in Mainz just yet by starting him too soon. Bubble wrap.
And now there is poor Andre Schürrle, who will probably find himself on the bench after scoring his first Bundesliga goal last weekend. Though Reus simply is the better option on the left. So he will go on the right? Christian Pulisic? He played okay against Bremen going forward, but his contributions to the back teaming up with Piszczek have grown important since the right-back has made a habit out of eyebrow-raising-passes. Tuchel will be aware of the pacey threat that is Jairo Samperio.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Tuchel has already revealed it.
Line-up that I think Tuchel will pick: Bürki – Piszczek, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer – Weigl – Pulisic, Dembele, Götze, Reus – Aubameyang
Likeliness of getting the line-up prediction right: 23.03%
Post your’s in the comments! Winner gets a shout-out on the next Yellowwallpod Episode.