Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund Preview: Can Dortmund keep their BayArena run going?

Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund Preview: Can Dortmund keep their BayArena run going?

Roger Schmidt's spirited Bayer Leverkusen will lock horns with the in-form Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening at the BayArena.

Kaustubh Pandey

During what promises to be another eventful round of fixtures in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen will take on Borussia Dortmund at the BayArena on Saturday evening, with Roger Schmidt's men looking to get their season back on track.

Having won only a single game in five outings in all competitions, Leverkusen currently lie 10th in the Bundesliga table following their thrilling 3-2 triumph over Mainz last week.

Thomas Tuchel's men, on the other hand, currently find themselves second in the table and are back in league action after coming away with a 2-2 draw against reigning European champions Real Madrid in their Champions League tie during the week. 

More good times for BVB ahead?

Dortmund, who have entered their second season under Thomas Tuchel in rather sublime fashion, are gunning for the title again in a bid to dislodge Bayern Munich's privileged spot at the head of German football. The 2-2 draw at home to Zinedine Zidane's formidable Real Madrid outfit goes to show that Dortmund are somewhat capable of achieving that.

However, the 1-0 loss to Bundesliga newboys Leipzig has left Dortmund three points adrift of the mighty Bayern, who are still unbeaten in the league. Dortmund's goal-difference, which currently stands at 12, only two behind Bayern, is again suggestive of the prowess they carry in front of goal.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has already racked up a tally of five goals in just as many games, while former Bayer star Gonzalo Castro, who will be up against his former club on Saturday, has four assists to his name and is a vital cog in their wheel. The usage of Raphael Guerreiro as a central midfield player, despite the Portuguese being a left back, has come in as a surprise but has worked out extremely well for Dortmund. He shone during Dortmund's recent wins over Darmstadt and Wolfsburg, playing a key role against Zidane's Madrid too.

Raphael Guerreiro has been a god-send since joining Dortmund (image source: NurPhoto/Getty Images contributor)

The 4-1-4-1 formation, which sees Julian Weigl play as the sole holding midfield player, has played to the strengths to the likes of Ousmane Dembele, young Emre Mor and the American starlet Christian Pulisic. History also seems to be on Dortmund's side too having not lost to Leverkusen since May 2007.

Can Schmidt build on the momentum?

A superb Chicharito Hernandez hat-trick, that helped Leverkusen storm back from 2-1 down to shock Mainz 3-2, may suggest an upturn in form. The game saw Leverkusen show signs of defensive frailties, but also of determination to defy the odds and comeback from losing positions, that too late in the game.

The season has been a rather frustrating one for Schmidt's men so far, riddled with inconsistencies already and having been forced to deal with some prominent injury concerns too. Apart from Chicharito, who joined from Manchester United more than an year ago, Joel Pohjanpalo has been amongst the goals but has sustained a long-term injury, after breaking his foot in training.

Having scored just eight times in six Bundesliga outings, Leverkusen have looked disappointing in the final third, albeit due to injuries sustained by new signing Kevin Volland, Chicharito and Pohjanpalo. And the 4-4-2, which saw the Fin start alongside the Mexican during a 1-1 draw at Monaco on Wednesday, will likely see Volland come in to make a start.

Chicharito, whose scored all seven of his goals away from home, will have a major role to play in this one, with Leverkusen only one point better than they were at this point last season, and Leverkusen's home form against BVB would be something they'd like to correct, having not won against them in over nine years now.

Big misses for both sides

Dortmund will be without the influential Andre Schurrle, who scored the late equalizer against Madrid in mid-week but sustained a knee-injury during the game, Thomas Tuchel has confirmed. Marco Reus is still out after having torn his abductor muscle back in May.

A statement on the Dortmund official website told that the duo of Marc Bartra and Adrian Ramos would also not feature, as Tuchel was quoted as saying: "Safety is our priority. Now we have to use the two weeks so we can be on the safe side [for the next Bundesliga game on Oct. 14] against Hertha."

As far as Leverkusen are concerned, Karim Bellarabi would obviously sit out, after having torn his muscle bundle some weeks ago. Pohjanpalo will be back by December and Vladen Yurchenko happens to be a doubt for the game at BayArena on Saturday.

Can the Leverkusen defense stand firm?

Quite evidently, the game is going to revolve mainly around how Leverkusen's defence deals with  Dortmund's threatening attack, which has become a scourge for a majority of Bundesliga sides this season. Leverkusen have conceded seven goals this season, while Dortmund have scored 22 times in the competition already.

Leverkusen's tendency to turn up in big games, no matter how good or bad they perform in games against relatively smaller opposition, is something that will come in really handy on Saturday evening. Apart from their defeat away from home against Leipzig, which was a shock, this will be the first real test for Dortmund's yellow army and quite the same for Leverkusen.

Predicted Line-ups

Leverkusen( 4-4-2): Leno; Bender, Tah, Toprak, Heinrichs; Mehmedi, Aranguiz, Kampl, Calhanoglu; Hernandez, Volland

Dortmund (4-1-4-1): Burki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer; Weigl; Pulisic, Castro, Gotze, Guerreiro; Aubameyang