Cologne v Borussia Dortmund
Two points behind leaders Union Berlin, Borussia Dortmund make the short journey to Cologne on Saturday afternoon as they look to pick up successive wins following their 1-0 win against Ruhr rivals Schalke prior to the international break.
But despite being in a positive position in the table, Edin Terzic’s side haven’t found their scoring boots after seven games, which is worrying. Borussia Dortmund are under-performing their xG by a considerable margin (-4.0). Of the teams in the top seven, BVB (9) have scored significantly less than Union Berlin (15), Bayern Munich (19), Eintracht Frankfurt (14) and others. Although a stop-gap until Sebastian Haller’s return, Anthony Modeste has scored just one goal in six Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund. Where BVB try to be quick in their transitions, the Frenchman seems isolated. Terzic must find a solution.
No. 1 ‘keeper Gregor Kobel remains sidelined after missing the last two league games through injury. They will also be without Marco Reus, whilst Youssoufa Moukoko withdrew from the Germany U21 squad with an injury and is doubtful for Saturday’s game. Although a growing injury list, something which BVB have always had to contend with, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Terzic deviate from his preferred 4-2-3-1.
Donyell Malen returned against Schalke and was magnificent. The Dutchman made 4 key passes, more than any other Dortmund player. Gio Reyna is also absent which could see Julian Brandt operate centrally and Karim Adeyemi on the right. Terzic remained positive throughout the press conference despite injury concerns.
As for Cologne, they’ve lost just one game this season but have drawn four of their last six games. Like Borussia Dortmund, they’re also under-performing in their xG (-3.0). An obvious factor for this is the absence of Modeste, who scored 20 Bundesliga goals last season, before joining Saturday’s opponents. Luca Kilian returns following a one-game suspension after picking up a second yellow card in their 1-1 draw against Bochum prior to the international break. He’ll likely partner Timo Hubers. The duo are creating a strong partnership in central-defence.
Coming into this game with a defeat against Union Berlin and draw against Bochum, Cologne could go winless in four Bundesliga games with Saturday’s game against Dortmund preceding a derby against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 games against Cologne in all competitions. As favourites, Terzic’s side should be able to keep the pressure on Union with successive wins.
Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach
Werder Bremen have surprised many since their return to the Bundesliga. Promoted as runners-up to Schalke, Ole Werner’s side sit 10th and are just three points off a Europa League spot. SVW welcome an equally impressive Borussia Monchengladbach to the Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts come into this game with one point from a possible six, losing against Augsburg before picking up a point against Bayer Leverkusen prior to the international break when Miloš Veljković scored a late equaliser. Bremen’s xG (2.1) was +0.1 higher than Leverkusen, who dominated in almost every other category other than chance conversion. Clinical in the area, only three teams have scored more than Werder Bremen (13) this season: Union Berlin (15), Bayern Munich (19) and Eintracht Frankfurt (14).
Outperforming their xG by 3, Bremen’s goalscoring form is largely down to Niclas Fullkrug, who could yet make Hansi Flick’s Germany squad for the World Cup. Playing alongside Marvin Ducksch, Fullkrug has it all as a classic No. 9. With 5 goals in 7 games, he’s Germany’s highest scorer in the Bundesliga.
Unlike Werder Bremen, Borussia Monchengladbach are under-performing in their xG by -6. They do though come into this game following an outstanding win against RB Leipzig. With 9 chances created, Gladbach converted 3 and outscored their xG by 0.3. Jonas Hofmann scored a brace against RB Leipzig, continuing his excellent form. Only Bayern (82) and Dortmund (58) have created more chances than Gladbach (56) this season.
Although under-performing in their xG metrics, you would fancy Gladbach to score at least one against Werder Bremen. They’re also boosted by the return of Alassane Plea, who has missed the last two Bundesliga games with a hamstring injury. After three goals and two assists in seven Bundesliga games, Marcus Thuram is in excellent form and has already surpassed last season’s goal contributions.
Werder Bremen have only failed to score in 1 of their 7 Bundesliga games this season and Borussia Monchengladbach have scored in 5 of their 7 games. With both teams playing an offensive style of football, boasting goal scorers in Fullkrug and Thuram, I would expect to see both teams score here.
Schalke v Augsburg
Sitting just one point above the relegation playoff is Schalke. Despite what the table suggests, this doesn’t reflect their performances. Frank Kramer’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat against Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund prior to the international break but despite a considerable margin in player talent, Schalke proved a difficult test against a side that are sitting second, two points behind leaders Union Berlin.
Operating in a 4-2-3-1, loanee Sepp van den Berg from Liverpool was magnificent alongside Maya Yoshida in central defence. Although they failed to create a chance against Borussia Dortmund, a central defence that consisted of Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck, Schalke themselves proved difficult to break down. Sitting deep with two banks of four, they looked to be quick in their transitions going forward. Prior to their defeat against BVB, Schalke were clinical against Bochum. Scoring 3 from an xG of 1.83.
Games involving Augsburg tend to be low scoring. They’ve won two of their three away games this season and there has been under 2.5 goals in Augsburg’s last four Bundesliga games. The departure of Michael Gregoritsch to Freiburg is evident but the arrival of Mergim Berisha has done a decent job as of now. The switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 has benefitted Augsburg, who have seen an increase in number of chances in their last two games. Defensively, Rafał Gikiewicz has been excellent in goal, saving 6 shots against Bayern Munich and 7 against Werder Bremen, two of Augsburg’s three wins this season.
At home, Schalke have picked up four points from a possible nine. Their only defeat at home this season came against leaders Union Berlin. These two teams are relatively evenly matched but with Marius Bulter, Sebastian Polter and Simon Terodde, you would fancy S04 to score at least one. If they can produce the same defensive display they did against Dortmund, I fancy them to pick up a vital three points this weekend.
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