Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund – Match Preview
2016/17 Bundesliga Season
Date: Saturday 1st October, 2016
Gameweek Six of this Bundesliga season see’s Bayer Leverkusen host a free-scoring Borussia Dortmund side. A Chicharito hat-trick helped Leverkusen pick up only their second win of the season away at Mainz, while Dortmund secured a comfortable 3-1 win at home to Freiburg.
Bayer Leverkusen certainly haven’t started the season the way they wanted to. Two losses and one draw in the opening five games leaves Leverkusen sitting in 10th, three points off a European spot. With only one clean sheet so far, which came in a 0-0 draw at home to Augsburg, Roger Schmidt will be demanding a much better defensive display. A key decision will be who gets the nod in central defence. Leverkusen have started their last three games with a different centre back pairing, involving Jonathan Tah, Omer Toprak, and summer signing Aleksandar Dragovic. Hakan Calhanoglu, Admir Mehmedi and Kevin Volland provide a great deal of versatility to the side, and allows Schmidt to utilise these players in a variety of systems. All three players can be used as wide men, but are more effective in central areas, either leading the line with Chicharito in a two-striker formation, or occupying the attacking midfield spot in a 4-2-3-1 system. All eight of Leverkusen’s goals this season have been scored by only two players; Chicharito and Joel Pohjanpalo, both hitting the net four times each. It will be interesting to see which system Schmidt deploys. 4-4-2 would provide an attacking threat, but a lack of numbers in midfield leads to a lot of pressure on the central defenders dealing with Dortmund’s midfield runners. 4-2-3-1 provides more defensive support for the defence, whilst still providing an attacking threat in wide areas.
Borussia Dortmund are the highest scoring team in the Bundesliga thus far, hitting the back of the net 16 times in five games. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the scoring charts with five goals, with Gonzalo Castro, Raphael Guerreiro and Lukasz Piszczek chipping in with two goals each. Dortmund’s shock 1-0 loss away at RB Leipzig in Gameweek Two is the only game they have failed to score in. Since then, Thomas Tuchel’s side have scored a staggering 14 goals in three games, only conceding two goals in the process. Departures of Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan left people wondering whether Dortmund would be able to compete with Bayern this season. The answer is most definitely. They have bought wisely, bringing in a combination of promising youth and first team quality players, including Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor, Sebastian Rode, Marc Bartra and Mikel Merino. The last few games have seen Tuchel adopt a 4-1-4-1, with Weigl occupying the space between the defence and midfield, with Gotze and Castro ahead, giving them freedom to make forward runs when the opportunity arises. Dembele and Pulisic provide the width currently, with Reus and Schurrle both unavailable through injury. With Aubameyang continuing his fine form from last year, Tah/Dragovic/Toprak will have to be at their best if they want to keep him quiet.
Both teams boast fantastic goal scorers, in Chicharito and Aubameyang, so it will be a tough game for both defences, ensuring both strikers are not given any space in the penalty area. I expect Borussia Dortmund to dominate possession in midfield. The 4-1-4-1 system allows support behind and beyond the ball, allowing for possession to be maintained. Leverkusen haven’t beaten Dortmund at the BayArena since May 2007, so they will be hoping to end the nine-year drought on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund to win 3-1.
I believe Borussia Dortmund will win the game, and will score at least two goals in the process. A goal in the first half for Dortmund will see Leverkusen become more susceptible to counter attacks in the second half as they push for an equaliser. The pace of Aubameyang and Dembele will cause Leverkusen a lot of problems, however the creativity of Julian Brandt and Hakan Calhanoglu is certainly a danger to the Borussia Dortmund side. Calhanoglu is one of the most gifted players in Europe when it comes to set pieces, so no doubt Thomas Tuchel will emphasise how important it will be to give away needless free kicks around the box.
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