Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are very much back in the Bundesliga title race. Inspired by the brilliant Erling Braut Haaland, the BVB have been in remarkable form in front of goal since returning from the winter break as they’ve claimed a hat-trick of impressive wins.
However, they are now set to face their first real test of 2020 as they travel to fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Though Die Werkself are slight underdogs at home according to the Bundesliga 2020 predictions, they are always dangerous opponents and will be eager to halt the Haaland hype train at home.
Leverkusen looking for an upset
Bayer Leverkusen made a strong start to 2020 with back-to-back wins away to Paderborn (1-4) and at home to Fortuna Dusseldorf (3-0).
Kai Havertz has had a somewhat underwhelming campaign thus far, but he showed in those matches why he’s considered one of the most impressive young prospects in all of Europe as he got two goals and an assist.
Leverkusen’s run of three consecutive league wins was finally snapped last time out after a 2-1 defeat away to Hoffenheim despite taking an early lead through Moussa Diaby. They still played relatively well, though, putting up 22 shots with 11 on target.
They bounced back from that defeat with a 2-1 home win over Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal. Lucas Alario scored the winning goal, his fifth in his last eight appearances (four starts).
Leverkusen have actually been better away from the BayArena in the league this season. In 10 home matches, they have just four wins, four draws, and two defeats while scoring an underwhelming 15 goals.
But with talented attackers such as Havertz, Diaby, and Karim Bellarabi playing behind captain Kevin Volland, Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz certainly has the weapons at his disposal to trouble Dortmund’s shaky defence.
The Haaland goal machine
Erling Braut Haaland has been exactly what Dortmund hoped he’d be: a goal machine. The Norwegian teen has been in outstanding form, scoring an astounding eight goals in his first four games for his new club.
As a result, the BVB have won their first three league games of 2020, scoring five goals in each one to put their miserable Christmas behind them.
Curiously, Dortmund manager Lucien Favre has yet to play his new star forward the full 90 minutes yet. Haaland has also started just one match thus far, which was their 5-0 win over Union Berlin. He came on as a second-half substitute in Dortmund’s 3-2 defeat to Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal.
Haaland will most likely return to the starting line-up alongside Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho, who has also been making several Bundesliga 2020 highlights. The young Englishman has scored in 10 of his last 12 matches in all competitions and has recorded at least a goal and an assist in six of his last seven Bundesliga matches.
But as good as Dortmund have been going forward, their defence remains a major question mark. That was clear to see as they gave up three goals against Augsburg as well as relegation-threatened Werder Bremen.
They’ve brought in defensive midfielder Emre Can on-loan from Juventus to try and improve their defensive woes. But while Can came on as a sub late against Bremen, it remains to be seen whether the Germany international will be handed the start against his old side, Leverkusen.
The Leverkusen-Dortmund matchup has generally been quite competitive. Since 1992, the two teams have played 55 times, with Dortmund holding a slender 21-19 edge in terms of wins, with 15 draws.
However, Dortmund have dominated the matchup in recent years. They are undefeated in their last six meetings (five wins and a draw) while scoring four or more goals four times.
Dortmund won the first meeting of the season at Signal Iduna Park 4-0, with captain Marco Reus bagging a brace. Reus has a strong record of scoring against Leverkusen; he has five in his last four matches against them.
And on the other side, Leverkusen captain Kevin Volland has scored three times in his last five against Dortmund.