It’s 5th versus 13th in the Bundesliga this weekend as Borussia Dortmund hosts Werder Bremen at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
Dortmund had their UEFA Champions League dreams crushed during the week, as a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City in the 2nd leg of their quarter-final tie meant that BVB were dumped out of the competition after losing 4-2 on aggregate.
With qualification for next year’s edition looking slim due to Dortmund being seven points behind 4th place Eintracht Frankfurt, this season is starting to look like a terrible one. They’ve still got a slim chance of sneaking into the top four, but they’ll need to win this game to continue having any hope of doing so.
Bremen, on the other hand, were brought even closer to the relegation zone last weekend, getting blown out at home against RB Leipzig, ultimately losing 4-1.
They weren’t helped out by results elsewhere, as Arminia Bielefeld won against SC Freiburg while Hertha Berlin picked up a point with a draw at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Now, Die Grün-Weißen are only four points clear of the relegation playoff, which means there’s pressure on them to start turning things around soon before they get dragged into a late-season fight for survival.
With the two sides on opposite ends of the DFB-Pokal semi-finals, this game could end up being a preview of the final, adding a bit of narrative to proceedings.
Dortmund will be without defenders Dan-Axel Zagadou and Marcel Schmelzer, who are both out with knee injuries. Youssoufa Moukoko and Axel Witsel are each out for the rest of the season due to a shin and an achilles issue respectively, so neither will feature on Saturday. Thomas Delaney and Jadon Sancho, meanwhile, are listed as doubtful for the contest at the moment.
Ömer Toprak will be Bremen’s big absence, as the former Dortmund defender is out due to a calf injury. Nick Woltemade is also unavailable for selection with a knee issue, while reserve goalkeeper Luca Plogmann is a doubt because of a knee issue of his own.
Borussia Dortmund: Hitz, Morey, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro, Bellingham, Can, Dahoud, Reyna, Haaland, Reus
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Groß, Veljković, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Möhwald, Bittencourt, Augustinsson, Sargent, Rashica
Ones to watch
Erling Haaland finds himself in a bit of a goal drought at the moment.
It’s still far from the worst run of form, but the forward hasn’t found the back of the net in any of his last four games for Dortmund, with his last goal coming on March 20th. He also didn’t score for Norway during the most recent international break, kept at bay for three World Cup qualifying contests.
As a result, Haaland will be especially hungry in this match. A goalscoring machine ever since coming to the Signal Iduna Park, he’s got 38 goals in only 34 games for the club. The fact that he’s still only 20-years-old makes that tally all the more impressive, and goes to show just how bright his future really is.
He’s not used to not scoring, but Bremen will hope that his goalscoring duck isn't broken this weekend. The Norwegian international didn’t feature in the reverse fixture, and his absence was felt at times. Whether or not he can find the back of the net against Die Grün-Weißen remains to be seen, but Haaland will certainly be motivated to do so.
Speaking of major absences, Bremen sorely missed Maximilian Eggestein last weekend.
Usually a consistent presence in the starting lineup, Eggestein was forced to miss out versus RB Leipzig due to suspension. Die Grün-Weißen just didn’t look the same without him, and even though there were other problems with the team, one of the biggest ones was not having Eggestein involved.
The midfielder has become Bremen’s key player, which is really nice to see. Eggestein had a breakout season two years ago, but he struggled last campaign. He’s now turned things back around, though, and he’s been a big reason why Die Grün-Weißen are sitting more comfortably in the league standings than before.
He’ll have a tough test ahead of him against Dortmund, but another strong showing from Eggestein could be enough for Bremen to get some sort of result on the day.
Last time out
It was a close contest the last time these two sides faced off, but Dortmund were still able to secure all three points with a 2-1 victory at the Wohninvest Weserstadion in Edin Terzić’s first game as interim manager.
Die Schwarz-Gelben started on the front foot, and they made the most of their advantage by opening the scoring in the 12th minute. Some clever play from the likes of Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho, and Giovanni Reyna led to Sancho getting a shot off in the area. His initial attempt was blocked, but the rebound fell right to Raphaël Guerreiro, who settled the loose ball before dinking a volley into the back of the net.
Bremen responded well, though, equalizing close to the half-hour mark. A pass from Theodor Gebre Selassie picked out Maximilian Eggestein, who turned before laying the ball off to Kevin Möhwald on the edge of the area. He did the rest, placing a first-time shot into the bottom corner.
However, Dortmund would not be denied in the end, as they grabbed the winning goal with about 15 minutes left to go. It all started with two mistakes from Jiří Pavlenka. He first failed to deal with a cross whipped into the area, dropping the ball after bumping into defender Marco Friedl. Then, when he tried to win the ball back, Pavlenka took out Manuel Akanji, leaving the referee with no other choice than to point to the stop.
The goalkeeper nearly made up for his errors by saving the penalty kick attempt from Marco Reus, but the rebound was poked home by the Dortmund captain to win the match for his side.
How to watch
The contest will be aired on BT Sport 3 at 14:30 BST in the UK, while those in the United States will be able to see the game on ESPN+ at 9:30 a.m. EST.