Bundesliga runners-up prepare to go head to head with Portugal giants Sporting CP in a reverse leg of the Group F following a 2-1 triumph in Lisbon. Wednesday’s match is of paramount importance for both sides who were expected to battle until the very end for a place in the knockouts.
Domestic struggles a worrying factor
Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund have made great progress under Thomas Tuchel over the last couple of months, but their impressive run has seen a slight slump in form over the last couple of weeks in the Bundesliga. The BVB are without a win in their last four domestic outings, losing at Bayer Leverkusen a month ago and notching three consecutive draws against Hertha Berlin, Ingolstadt and Schalke last time out. The goalless draw in the Ruhr derby has put Dortmund in fifth place in the table – eight points behind league leaders Bayern Munich – and Tuchel’s men are keen to make a balance between their domestic and international exploits as soon as possible. One might think that BVB are prioritising the Champions League as they are not nearly as focused as they should be on the internal affairs. Aiming to make an early qualification to the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition, Dortmund will be hoping their star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will extend his goal scoring form. The 27-year-old Gabon international scored three goals in last four matches, with the exception of Schalke, and home fans will be keen to see their favourite get back on the score sheet on Wednesday night.
Hosts will have several injury problems with Durm and Marco Reus ruled out for the Wednesday’s clash due to knee injury and convalescence, respectively. Bender and Schmelzer are nearing the return date, but there is a possibility that Sporting CP duel is coming a bit too early for the two of them.
Make it or break it
Sporting CP are currently sitting in the third place with only three points to their name and the forthcoming trip to Germany comes as an imperative to win. Portuguese giants have only managed a win against Legia Warsaw, but succumbed to two identical 2-1 defeats to Real Madrid and Dortmund. Unlike the game against Dortmund where Sporting CP fell behind early in the game, Portugal giants were unlucky not to win against the reigning European Champions Real Madrid until the last minutes of the game. But goals from Ronaldo and Morata denied them in the end, preventing the upset triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu. In addition to their international woes, the Lions are going through the poor patch domestically as well since they failed to win in their last three Primeira Liga outings. Three consecutive stalemates put them in fourth place in the table and Jorge Jesus’ side could use a win in Germany to turn their fortunes around and get back in contention on both fronts. It will be easier said than done as Sporting CP are boasting a miserable record on German soil which saw them lose eleven times so far and draw just once in 12 games in total.
Just like opposing number Thomas Tuchel, Sporting CP manager Jorge Jesus will have selection problems for the upcoming match with Jefferson, Paulista and Silva all on the sidelines due to their respective injuries. Radosav Petrovic is still nursing his thigh injury, but there is a chance that the Serbian midfielder could be fit to feature.
It is hard to think that Borussia Dortmund will miss a sitter as they stand on the brink of grabbing an early visa for the elimination stage of the elite competition. With Sporting CP’s terrible record against German teams away, there is good chance that the history will repeat itself as Dortmund sit as firm favourites to grab all three points.
Top pick: Dortmund 1.50 (1/2) @StanJames
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – yes 1.67 (4/6) @Bet365
Alternative pick 2: Aubameyang to score anytime 1.67 (4/6) @Unibet