Dortmund get an early opportunity to up the pressure on Bayern Munich in the title race when they kick-off the weekend’s action away at near neighbours Bochum. The Schwarzgelben showed the perfect reaction last week to their disappointing draw with Stuttgart by beating Frankfurt in style.
If they can avoid any more blips this season, they know they will be crowned champions, but pressure can do strange things to teams and nothing will be taken for granted. Dortmund aren’t historically renowned for their mental strength and this will certainly be tested in the coming weeks.
Having finally come out publicly and stated their avowed goal is the Meisterschale, there can be no hiding place for BVB players starting with the short trip to Bochum on Friday. They have the upper hand in the title race and it is up to them to keep hold of it in the final five games of the season.
A number of factors play into their hands. Three of their final five matches are at home, key players are hitting top form at the right moment (Donyell Malen and Karim Adeyemi) while they have the engine that is Jude Bellingham as well as the experience of Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Niklas Süle.
Bochum lost heavily last weekend with a 5-1 home defeat to Wolfsburg and failed to extricate themselves from the relegation fight. They know another loss could see them sucked back into the bottom three, so Thomas Letsch will have his side fired up for the visit of Ruhr rivals Dortmund.
The two sides met at the start of February in the DFB Pokal at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion with BVB winning 2-1. The Dortmunder also won the reverse fixture at the Signal Iduna Park 3-0 so Bochum are looking to avoid a hattrick of defeats to their neighbours this season.
Bochum are currently just two points above the drop zone with Stuttgart right behind them. Thomas Letsch’s side must concentrate on their own results first before looking at how the other strugglers have done. It would be better to secure safety themselves rather than rely on the failings of others.
Bochum have beaten RB Leipzig, Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt at home this season, so know how to cause an upset. They have also lost heavily to Bayern (0-7) and Wolfsburg (1-5).
Takuma Asano and Cristian Gamboa look set to make a return to the starting line-up. Philipp Förster is unavailable due to an achilles injury and it remains to be seen whether Simon Zoller gets a second successive start in the forward line.
Possible line-up: Riemann, Gamboa, Ordets, Masovic, Danilo Soares, Losilla, Osterhage, Asano, Stöger, Antwi-Adjei, Hofmann
Nico Schlotterbeck is the main absentee for Dortmund after limping off last week against Frankfurt on his return to first-team action. It is hoped he will be able to comeback next week. Soumaila Coulibaly has a knee injury meaning Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle should for the central defensive partnership.
Possible line-up: Kobel, Ryerson, Hummels, Süle, Guerreiro, Can, Bellingham, Brandt, Malen, Adeyemi, Haller
What they’re saying:
Thomas Letsch: “Dortmund is particularly strong in the 2023 calendar year. They have an extreme individual quality. There will be a world selection on the pitch, peppered with many national players. Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen are extremely fast. If you offer them room, they are difficult to defend. With Sebastian Haller they have a target player who can secure and lay-off the balls well. Jude Bellingham, Julian Brandt – I could list more. They are of high quality.
“With Borussia Dortmund, the supposedly best team in the Bundesliga is coming to Bochum. They are in first place with five games to go and want to become German champions. We are happy to have them as our guest here. We don’t care if it’s a good time or a bad time. We’re doing everything we can to play in the Bundesliga next season.
“What could be nicer? Friday evening game, derby, and in an exciting constellation. We won’t hide. We have a home game in a special atmosphere. We did really well in both previous games against Dortmund. We played well, but just playing is not enough. In the end we lost both games. We must try to allow as little as possible. And when we get opportunities ourselves, we have to take advantage of them. It’s a lot of little things.
“We have to go to the absolute limit over 90 minutes and be at 100 percent to be able to take something with us.”
Edin Terzic: “It’s a Revierderby. We can remember the Pokal game in Bochum under floodlights, the atmosphere is heated. It will be a difficult task, but we’re going into the game with a healthy dose of confidence. The most important step is always the next one. We are well prepared and the guys trained well during the week. We can improve our situation tomorrow, but that can only happen if we take three points.
“We haven’t been able to win the last five away games. If we couldn’t win away from home, though, we wouldn’t be where we are now. We can and we have to pull it off in the last two away games to achieve our goals.
“They play very intense football, have fixed patterns and put a lot of emphasis on standards. Bochum always comes through their target player up front, who then puts the balls off to quick outfielders. A lot of teams have struggled there.
“We’re looking forward to it being down to the wire now. We want to show that we are ready to take the final steps and then celebrate together at the end.”
22/04/23 VfL Wolfsburg (h) 1-5 L (Bundesliga)
16/04/23 Union Berlin (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
09/04/23 VfB Stuttgart (h) 2-3 L (Bundesliga)
31/03/23 Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
18/03/23 RB Leipzig (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
22/04/23 Eintracht Frankfurt (h) 4-0 W (Bundesliga)
15/04/23 VfB Stuttgart (a) 3-3 D (Bundesliga)
08/04/23 Union Berlin (h) 2-1 W (Bundesliga)
05/04/23 RB Leipzig (a) 2-0 L (DFB Pokal)
01/04/23 Bayern Munich (a) 4-2 L (Bundesliga)
The corresponding league fixture took place back in November on matchday 13 although the two sides also met in the DFB Pokal in February.
In the league clash Youssoufa Moukoko converted BVB’s first chance of the game to become the youngest-ever player to reach ten Bundesliga goals. The lead was doubled just four minutes later when Giovanni Reyna converted from the penalty spot after a Vassilis Lampropoulos trip on Donyell Malen.
A long-range effort from Moukoko in first half injury time put the result beyond doubt and Dortmund were able to see the match out comfortably in the second period.
Players to watch:
Midfielder Patrick Osterhage will want to prove himself against his former club and maybe put a spanner in their title dreams. The 23-year-old made eight appearances for Borussia Dortmund II in the 2020/21 season when current Augsburg coach Enrico Maaßen was in charge.
The man of the moment for BVB is Dutch attacker Donyell Malen, who has scored six goals in his last five Bundesliga appearances. After a poor Hinrunde his form has picked up big time in the second half of the season and he’s become a real dangerman for Edin Terzic’s side as part of a front three with Sebastian Haller and Karim Adeyemi.