Der Klassiker is here and Borussia Dortmund are outside of the Champions League positions. Taking us through the hows and whys and what impact that will play against Bayern Munich in this edition is Brian Meyers over at our partner site, Fear The Wall.
Dortmund seem to have the potential to face Bayern eye to eye, yet the team has not yet lived up to its potential in the Bundesliga. Recently, Dortmund has drawn against Schalke, Ingolstadt, and Hertha, and lost to Leverkusen. Do these performances merely reflect Dortmund's injury crisis, or are there deeper reasons?
Mostly the injury crisis. Reus has been sorely missed this season, when he has returned and is fully healthy BVBs attack will be even more dangerous. All of our CBs have missed time this season at one point of another, which has made BVB Swiss cheese in the back line.
If there is a reason that can be pointed to that's not injury, its that Julian Wigl has been exposed quite a bit. Weigl is easily Dortmund's most important player, his passing is at the center of our build up play. A lot of teams have figured that Weigl is not good at handling the press as well as we'd like. Although this could also be due to Weigl not having consistent CBs to pass back to when being pressed. Also Castro and Rode have been pretty terrible when put with Weigl in the holding midfield, so maybe it's not all his fault. When the team is fully healthy and Tuchel settles on a midfielder to pair with Weigl, we'll see how he handles others teams bringing the press.
On the injury front, Dortmund has recently fought through a glut of them. Has the situation now improved? Will Marco Reus, for instance, start against Bayern?
The situation hasn't been great. Most players do seem to be coming back though. We should have almost everyone healthy for Bayern. This includes Marco who some think will even start against the Bavarians.
Dortmund have some of the better young fullbacks in European football in Raphael Guerrero, Matthias Ginter, and Felix Passlack. However Thomas Tuchel still plays Lukas Pizczek quite a bit. What gives?
Raph has been hurt for stretches this season and is also considered to be a midfielder by Tuchel. Ginter has had to fill in at center back quite a bit so he hasn't had a lot of chances to play at fullback. As for Passlack, I think that he has actually surpassed Pizczek in the depth chart and will be our starting left back for the rest of the season or until he gets hurt. I know there is a lot of hype around Pulsic these days, but Passlack has been the real wonderboy in the BVB academy for years and he has now come into his own as a player.
What is Dortmund's biggest weakness and what Bayern player do you think is going to able to exploit it best?
Our defense is by far our biggest weakness. While Bartra and Sokratis are quality defenders they haven't clicked very well when playing together and also haven't played as much as Tuchel would like together due to injury. So Muller and Lewy are again probably Bayern's biggest threats. however what i man be even more worried for is how Weigl will handle a Bavarian press. Since he has struggled with being pressed it will be interesting to see who Bayern uses to pressure him of the ball and if Weigls teammates will be able to help him in those situations. Weigl is probably also our biggest advantage this game if he plays well however, so this game may really hinge on Julian Weigl. Nothing new for Dortmund fans this season.