Bundesliga Preview: Borussia Dortmund - Bayer Leverkusen
Round one concludes with a sizzling contest between two teams in tremendous form.
By Clark Whitney
Red-Hot Ruhrs On Road To Restoring Reputation
It’s been a long time coming, but Dortmund’s policy of investing in young talent is finally coming to fruition. Almost a decade after flirting with bankruptcy, and 13 years after winning the Champions League, the Ruhr side seem ready to reclaim their position among the Bundesliga’s elite. Youngsters such as Marcel Schmelzer, Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Nuri Sahin, and Kevin Grosskreutz have come of age in the last year or so, giving rise to a young but tremendously talented team.
Most recently, Dortmund thrashed Qarabag 4-0 in their Europa League play-off. It was never going to be an awfully difficult match to win, but the team’s comprehensive victory is worth noting. Newcomer Shinji Kagawa and goal machine Lucas Barrios, both of whom have been red-hot in pre-season, bagged a brace apiece in that match.
Prior to that, Dortmund thumped Wacker Burghausen in the DFB Pokal 3-0 in their first competitive match of the season. Facing Leverkusen, however, will be an altogether different challenger; die Werkself finished fourth in the Bundesliga last term.
Before the game, coach Juergen Klopp commented on his opponents: “Leverkusen play good football, they have a great team and even added some more good players (during the summer).”
Nonetheless, the Dortmund boss insists that his team are ready: “We are looking forward to it and we will give our all.”
Injury-Hit Leverkusen Aiming For Early Success
Like Dortmund, Leverkusen have stormed out of the gate. In their first competitive match of the season, die Werkself thrashed fifth division minnows FK Pirmasens 11-1. On Thursday, they won a Europa League play-off tie against Ukranian side Tavriya Simferopol by a 3-0 margin. Like Dortmund, however, Leverkusen will have to prepare for a much greater challenge on Sunday.
Coach Jupp Heynckes’ will have to be without striker Patrick Helmes, who will miss the next few weeks with a muscular problem. However, Michael Ballack, who featured for 45 minutes against Tavriya Simferopol and scored a late penalty, should be fit enough to start on Sunday. The Germany international, who is desperate to regain his captaincy on the international stage, will be keen to perform well ahead of next month’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Belgium.
Heynckes praised Ballack following the Simferopol match: “I was very impressed with the 45 minutes. Michael has played seamlessly, with impulse, and dominantly designed our play. He also indicated his scoring ability. We could not expect more at this stage.”
Looking forward to the Dortmund clash, Heynckes was respectful of his opponents: “Dortmund have delivered two convincing games in the Pokal and Europa League. This is a young team who are clamorous, powerful and have good footballers.
“But my players know that we meet on Sunday on equal terms.”
Fullback Dede remains injured, and both Florian Kringe and Mohamed Zidan remain sidelined as they attempt to reach full match fitness. In addition, Jakub Blaszczykowski has suffered a thigh strain, and will be out for two weeks. However, Kevin Grosskreutz has shaken off a knock, and should start on the left wing. Juergen Klopp has a bit of a selection headache in the right-back position, and will have to choose between Lukasz Piszczek and Patrick Owomoyela.
Possible Starting XI: Weidenfeller - Pisczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, Kagawa, Grosskreutz, Barrios
Michael Ballack has finally returned to fitness, and featured in Thursday’s Europa League victory over Tavriya Symferopol. Fabian Giefer, Simon Rolfes, and Nicolai Jorgensen are not yet fully fit, and Sami Hyypia and Patrick Helmes have been ruled out with injuries. There remain question marks over Lars Bender, who suffered a severe calf contusion on Thursday, as well as Sidney Sam, who is having minor back problems.
Possible Starting XI: Adler - Schwaab, Friedrich, Reinartz, Kadlec - Renato Augusto, Vidal, Ballack, Barnetta - Kiessling, Derdiyok
This one is too close to call. Both teams are in excellent form at the moment, but I’ll tip it to Dortmund by a hair. They have the home advantage, and at the moment, Shinji Kagawa and Lucas Barrios just can’t stop scoring. I’ll pick Dortmund to come out on top in a thriller, although a draw or even a Leverkusen win would not be the least bit surprising.
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
- 15.07 %
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
- 12.33 %
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
- 12.33 %
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Dec 7, 2013||Borussia Dortmund 0 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Feb 3, 2013||Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2 - Borussia Dortmund 3|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Sep 15, 2012||Borussia Dortmund 3 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Feb 11, 2012||Borussia Dortmund 1 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Aug 27, 2011||Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0 - Borussia Dortmund 0|
|Mar 9, 2014||SC Freiburg 0 - Borussia Dortmund 1||GER1|
|Mar 1, 2014||Borussia Dortmund 3 - Nürnberg 0||GER1|
|Feb 25, 2014||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - Borussia Dortmund 4||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||Hamburg 3 - Borussia Dortmund 0||GER1|
|Feb 15, 2014||Borussia Dortmund 4 - Eintracht Frankfurt 0||GER1|
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed