Dortmund are in Friday night action for the second successive week and are looking for an improvement on their disappointing display last week at Heidenheim. Having won three on the bounce, BVB were insipid at the Voith Arena under the floodlights and were held to a goalless draw. The critics were quickly on their case with coach Edin Terzic even taking the unusual step of criticising his players in public.
“I don’t think we deserved more than a point with our performance,” the Dortmund coach said after the game. “We had a lot of possession, especially in the second half, but we had no penetration, were hardly able to create any real chances. I think our play was far too complicated and not tidy. We were far too passive in our positioning and we wanted to correct that in the second half. I think the structure looked better in the second half, but it was still not good enough.
“A few guys who have been dissatisfied over the last few weeks and months with their playing time got the chance to play. But they weren’t able to make the most of it. We as a team simply didn’t manage to do what we set out to do before the game.”
The hosts will be encouraged by the fact that the last two Bundesliga meetings with the Breisgauer at the Signal Iduna Park have both ended in 5-1 victories and the knowledge they have won fourteen of the last fifteen home games with just one draw.
The positive mood from the first three fixtures this year has abated somewhat after the Heidenheim game. The task now is to inject a sense of optimism again with a performance and a victory.
Christian Streich’s side travel north on the back of two consecutive 3-1 losses (Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart) so need to tighten things up if they are not to make it three reverses on the trot and drop further behind in the battle for the European places.
Every season coach Streich emphasises that securing Bundesliga survival is the season goal, but almost every season sees the Black Forest club surpass that target and compete for the European places. At the same point last season Freiburg were nine points better off and sat fourth. A defeat on Friday could possibly see them drop down to ninth. They have found goals harder to come by this season with just 26 scored- only the bottom and Wolfsburg have scored fewer goals this season.
Their record against Dortmund isn’t great and the Hinrunde fixture on matchday 4 saw them give up a 2-1 half-time lead to ultimately lose 4-2 at the Europa Park with two goals conceded right at the end.
Edin Terzic looks set to be able to welcome back keeper Gregor Kobel as well as Julian Brandt and Marco Reus following illness. The departure of Thomas Meunier to Trabzonspor means that Marius Wolf is likely to get the nod at right back.
The experiment with Youssoufa Moukoko playing alongside Niclas Füllkrug looks like it will be ditched with a return to a 4-2-3-1 formation. BVB are unlikely to take any risks with Jadon Sancho and a late decision will be taken as to his involvement. Julian Ryerson on the other hand does look ready to return to the squad following injury and could make the bench.
Possible line-up: Kobel – Wolf, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Maatsen – Sabitzer, Can – Malen, Brandt, Reus – Füllkrug
The Breisgauer will be without key defender (and ex-Dortmund) Mathias Ginter due to an achilles injury and Merlin Röhl is suspended due to his red card last week against Stuttgart. There is more positive news regarding Christian Günter. Having broken his arm on matchday one this season, he made a substitute appearance last week and will be available again this week.
Ritsu Doan has also returned from the Asia Cup and could be in contention.
Possible line-up: Atubolu – Kübler, Sildillia, Gulde, Makengo – Eggestein, Höfler – Sallai, Höler, Grifo – Gregoritsch
What they’re saying:
Edin Terzic: “We treated the performance in Heidenheim critically. In front of our fans in our stadium, we are willing to show a better performance and keep the three points here. We can understand the fans’ frustration. But we have to hold on to the things that make us good. Previously we had seen progress in a number of points; defensively we were very stable, conceding one goal in four games. But there wasn’t enough going forward.
“Freiburg always stays true to their path, even if there are times when they don’t achieve their results. The first game was extremely close, they come with the aim of scoring. But we are confident that we will perform better tomorrow than we did last week.”
Christian Streich: “Be brave. Play your own game. Even Dortmund don’t always do everything right. Of course they have enormous quality, but there are always chances. We want to play constructively – and we can do that too.
“You can’t reinvent the wheel. It’s about how the eleven on the pitch support each other and what speed we have. We deserved at least a draw in the first game. Dortmund was ice cold. But the first game was good, that gives us confidence.”
02/02/24 Heidenheim (a) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
28/01/24 VfL Bochum (h) 3-1 W (Bundesliga)
20/01/24 Köln (a) 0-4 W (Bundesliga)
13/01/24 Darmstadt (a) 0-3 W (Bundesliga)
19/12/23 Mainz (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
03/02/24 VfB Stuttgart (h) 1-3 L (Bundesliga)
27/01/24 Werder Bremen (a) 3-1 L (Bundesliga)
20/01/24 Hoffenheim (h) 3-2 W (Bundesliga)
13/01/24 Union Berlin (h) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
20/12/23 Heidenheim (a) 3-2 L (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture at the Signal Iduna Park last season was a year ago when the two sides met on matchday 19. Dortmund emerged victorious with a convincing 5-1 scoreline. Kiliann Sildillia was sent off after just 17 minutes after collecting two silly bookings and BVB opened the scoring soon after through Nico Schlotterbeck.
Lucas Höler did equalise on the stroke of half-time, but the home side ran away with the game in the second 45 minutes with four unanswered goals. Karim Adeyemi restored the lead three minutes after the restart before Sebastien Haller scored his first for the club minutes later. Julian Brandt and Claudio Reyna added further goals either side of Freiburg coach Christian Streich being sent off for complaining to the officials.
Players to watch:
The return from illness of Julian Brandt will be most welcome for Dortmund as the 27-year-old is the team’s creative spark and they simply look a much better side going forward with him in. His passing connects the play well, his set-piece delivery is excellent and he can usually be relied upon to inject some individual genius when the going looks to be tough.
If Brandt is the creative spark that gets Dortmund going, then Vincenzo Grifo is the equivalent for Freiburg. He has five goals and seven assists so far this season, but he will need to be on top of his game if he is to see Freiburg overturn a horrible run of results against the Schwarzgelben. The BVB defenders know that conceding free-kicks in and around their penalty area is just an invitation for Grifo to hurt them.