Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig: Match Preview

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: Oliver Jason Burke (R) of Leipzig battles for the ball with Julian Weigl of Dortmund during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red Bull Arena on September 10, 2016 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
LEIPZIG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: Oliver Jason Burke (R) of Leipzig battles for the ball with Julian Weigl of Dortmund during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red Bull Arena on September 10, 2016 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images) /
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Borussia Dortmund look to wash the taste of a disappointing draw out of their mouth, while RB Leipzig looks to continue their fine post winter break form.

This match is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which it was one of the first matches of the season.  Just how different these two clubs are since then?  Ousmane Dembele has emerged as a real star for Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus missed half of the year and for Leipzig, they have developed into a true title… well almost contender.

In the first match, Borussia Dortmund traveled away from home and perhaps wasn’t expecting as stiff of a challenge as they received.  A 1-0 loss was the final result in favor of Leipzig.

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Fast forward several months and Borussia Dortmund are slogging through a bit of a rough patch. They just can’t seem to do much more than match the level of their opponent having picked up just a point in four out of the last five matches.  Even the win against Werder Bremen was somewhat fortunate as a draw looked likely until late on.

Leipzig, on the other hand, has been wonderfully successful since the winter break.  Largely due to early red cards to the opponent in both of their matches, Leipzig has enjoyed a relatively easy time out both match weeks.  Both of those wins were huge for the simple fact that they came against potential competition for the Champions League spots.  In Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt, RB Leipzig was able to distance themselves and the same could be said this week.

The task won’t be easy for the East German club, though.  Borussia Dortmund has not lost a match at home in the last 29 attempts and the supporters won’t be keen for this to be the streak breaker.  Large fan protests are planned for the match against RB Leipzig’s corporate structure.

That atmosphere combined with the obvious Yellow Wall will make for an unforgiving time for RB Leipzig.

To make matters worse, RB Leipzig will be without a few of their top contributors.  Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner will both be out, Forsberg through red card suspension and Werner through illness.  The duo is RB Leipzig’s most dangerous pairing going forward with Forsberg leading the team with eight assists and Werner contributing eleven goals.

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RB Leipzig has been so successful this season because of their health and lack of suspension. Through the first eighteen match weeks, RB Leipzig has only thirteen players with more than 450 Bundesliga minutes played.  Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, has seventeen.  That doesn’t even take into consideration the Champions League minutes.  I say that to highlight the lack of players accustomed to shouldering a heavier playmaking or even playing load on the Leipzig squad.

By now we all know the Leipzig playing style.  They are a hard-charging unit that will look to disrupt the opposition.  Leipzig leads the Bundesliga in tackles and will score off the break for fun.  Borussia Dortmund had better spend some extra time in training to prevent the counter attacking that has so often been a problem.

Leipzig are also on an incredible run for a newly promoted side, having the most points accumulated through the first 18 weeks in the Bundesliga’s history.

LEIPZIG, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 10 : Diego Demme (R) of Leipzig in action against Mario Goetze (L) of Dortmund during their Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and BV Borussia Dortmund at the Red Bull Arena stadium in Leipzig, Germany on September 10, 2016.(Photo by DeFodi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LEIPZIG, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 10 : Diego Demme (R) of Leipzig in action against Mario Goetze (L) of Dortmund during their Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and BV Borussia Dortmund at the Red Bull Arena stadium in Leipzig, Germany on September 10, 2016.(Photo by DeFodi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

Borussia Dortmund, despite the struggles, has been no slouches themselves this season.  They currently sit fourth in the table and are finally getting healthy.  Marco Reus who missed most of the first half is back and scored a week ago.  Raphael Guerreiro was another lone bright spot last week as well.

It should be noted that Guerreiro was limited in training along with Sebastian Rode and I haven’t heard an update at the time of writing, but it didn’t seem terribly serious from what I’ve read.

If Borussia Dortmund is to have a chance in this match, Julian Weigl will need to be a key player. He is the metronome of the club when they are in possession and him having to deal with the Leipzig press could be challenging.  Weigl is so usually cool and consistent on the ball I don’t have worries and if he is able to pick out the correct pass, look out.  If he does, Borussia Dortmund could create some quick strike opportunities while Leipzig is out opposition from the press.  We all know how good Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and whoever is playing at attacking mid and right wing are with space and if the press is broken that could be a real opportunity.

On the flip side, after Borussia Dortmund loss possession when in attack, look for Weigl to be the all-important first line of defense.  Personally, I would use the always energetic Shinji Kagawa in the midfield as well to help break up Leipzig counters but if not, then Weigl needs to have a big tackling/intercepting game.

Finally, Borussia Dortmund must get out of the habit of relaying purely on the long ball from the central defenders for attack.  The match devolved into that last week and it can’t happen again. The pressure will be on by the Leipzig press so keep an eye how Sokratis and Matthias Ginter handle it.

The match kicks off Saturday, we’ll see you then.