The top game of matchday six of Bundesliga sees Bayer Leverkusen host a free-scoring Borussia Dortmund at the Bay Arena on Saturday evening.
Die Werkself have had a tough start to the season, two losses and one draw in five games have left Leverkusen sparring at tenth in the Bundesliga table, three points off a European spot. Leverkusen’s Mexican superstar Javier Hernandez came back from injury and scored a hat-trick last week against Mainz. The 28-year-old also found the net against Monaco in the midweek Champions League fixture.
With just one clean sheet however, Roger Schmidt will demand a strong defensive persistence from his troops as his side have conceded seven goals this season. The signing of Austria centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic in the summer has left Schmidt with a huge dilemma over squad selection. The Austrian coach started Leverkusen’s last three games with three different centre-back pairings, involving Jonathan Tah, Aleksandar Dragovic and Omer Toprak.
Bayer Leverkusen have also struggled in attack this season. With all their goals this term coming only from two players in Javier Hernandez and Joel Pohjanpalo. Hakan Calhanoglu, Admir Mehmedi and Kevin Volland all provides great versatility in offense, however, only Volland has been a bright spot for Die Werkself this season.
The main playmaker in the squad, Calhanoglu has created only five chances while injuries have played their part too. Kevin Volland missed the early stages of the season due to a hand cut while German International Karim Bellarabi is out with torn muscle.
Former Dortmund player, Kevin Kampl has been solid in midfield this season, he will be looking for a point to prove when facing his former club in the weekend.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, had no such problems this season. The departures of key players had left the fans pondering over the club’s future, but Dortmund, as always, successfully replaced with some smart moved over the summer.
Since the 1:0 loss away at RB Leipzig, the Black and Yellows have scored a sensational 14 goals in three league games as they put first SV Darmstadt and then VfL Wolfsburg past the swords, notching up an incredible 11 goals in those two games.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again carried on from his performance last season, already giving Lewandowski a run for his money for the Torjagerkanone scoring four goals. Youngsters Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic and Ousmane Dembele has also been the bright spots for Dortmund. Pulisic’s cross for the Schurrle thunderbolt against Real Madrid in midweek proved to be a crucial one.
Bayer Leverkusen, with all their problems this season, have faced another shock as lethal goalscorer Joel Pohjanpalo broke his foot during training, he will be out until December and joins Karim Bellarabi on the long term injury list for Leverkusen.
Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, also faces an injury dilemma as Neven Subotic, Sven Bender and Erik Durm all miss out due to injuries. However, Sven Bender and Marco Reus returned to training but aren’t expected to feature against Leverkusen.
New signing Marc Bartra failed to feature against Real Madrid on midweek, but could be fit for the Bayer Leverkusen clash. Andre Schurrle however, remains a doubt starter, even with his sensational goal in midweek, the German International was limping off in closing stages of the game.
Match Facts (Courtesy of Bundesliga.com)
- Leverkusen haven’t won a home game against Dortmund in over nine years.
- Leverkusen may have only managed seven out of 15 possible points this season – and yet Die Werkself only had six points at the same stage last term.
- Chicharito’s last seven goals have all come on the road.
- Dortmund haven’t lost in Leverkusen since May 2007.
- Dortmund have had nine different goal scorers this season, more than any other club in the Bundesliga.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 59 goals in his first 100 games for Dortmund, four more than Robert Lewandowski, who “only” scored 55 goals in his first 100 matches
Bayer Leverkusen: (4-4-2 formation) Bernd Leno; Benjamin Henrichs, Aleksandar Dragovic, Omer Toprak, Wendell; Kevin Volland, Charles Aranguiz, Kevin Kampl, Julian Brandt; Javier Hernandez, Admir Mehmedi
Borussia Dortmund: (4-1-4-1 formation) Roman Burki; Lukasz Piszczek, Sokratis, Marc Bartra, Marcel Schmelzer; Julian Weigl; Ousmane Dembele; Raphael Guerreiro, Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.