Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
VFL Wolfsburg vs Borussia Dortmund | Saturday 5 December | Volkswagen Arena | 19:30
The pick of this weekend’s Bundesliga ties will see third-placed Wolfsburg welcome second-placed Borussia Dortmund to the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday evening. Both teams have started the season relatively well but have struggled to keep up with Bayern Munich, who have opened up an eight-point gap between themselves and Thomas Tuchel’s team.
With just three games to go until the winter break, both teams will be desperate to secure maximum points before the players jet off for their holidays.
To Win Match
VFL Wolfsburg 31/10
Borussia Dortmund 8/10
Wolfsburg, by their own high standards, were poor last time out against a struggling Augsburg side. The fact that Dieter Hecking’s team were unable to score against the league’s third-worst defence will worry him heading into this weekend’s clash with Dortmund.
Last weekend’s draw saw Wolfsburg lose ground on Dortmund and league leaders Bayern Munich, perhaps ending any lingering thoughts of league. That draw also put them firmly in the sights of Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin who are now only two points behind them.
Hecking will be desperate to maintain his side's place on the table while also eating into the seven-point gap between themselves and second-placed Dortmund.
Looking forward to this weekend’s clash, Wolfsburg will have to deal with the attacking threat of Dortmund without the services of their Brazilian centre-half, Dante, who was received his second yellow card in the 85th minute of last week’s stalemate.
The key to whether or not the hosts can come away with anything from this weekend’s match is how well they contain the likes of Reus, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Kagawa, Ginter and Castro who have all be instrumental in Dortmund’s fine run of form this season. The hosts may well struggle to curtail the wealth of attacking options at Thomas Tuchel’s disposal without their commanding Brazilian.
Going forward, there will be a lot of pressure on Andre Schurrle, Julian Draxler and Max Kruse to provide Bas Dost with the kind of service he needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Dost has been key in Wolfsburg's success during this campaign, scoring seven times in the league this season.
Dortmund bounced back after two consecutive defeats to brush aside a woeful Stuttgart side last weekend. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued his fine scoring form with a goal in each half while Gonzalo Castro opened the scoring for the hosts in the third minute. A miserable afternoon for the basement-dwellers was capped off when Georg Niedermeir put the ball into his own net.
Thomas Tuchel’s side now look like the only team that can really challenge Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich in the race to claim this season’s Bundesliga crown.
Dortmund’s strength this season has been in their attacking play with the side already bagging an astonishing 40 goals in just 19 games thus far. Much of this has been down to Aubameyang who has notched up 17 league goals this season.
Credit for Aubameyang’s incredible goal scoring record also needs to go to Henrickh Mkhitaryan (5 assists), Shinji Kagawa (5), Matthias Ginter (4) and Gonzalo Castro (4) who have all made significant contributions in terms of assists. Mkhitaryan and Kagawa have looked especially dangerous this season – their combined passing range and vision have carved out innumerable chances this season for BVB.
The biggest worry that Tuchel will have heading into this weekend’s clash will be the form of Mats Hummels. The German World Cup winner has had a season to forget and has been lambasted by the press in recent weeks. His poor early-season form saw him dropped to the bench last time out against Stuttgart with Tuchel preferring Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer in a back three.
Whether or not the Hummels will get recalled to the team remains to be seen especially seeing how comfortably the above-mentioned three dealt with most of the Stuttgart’s attacking threat last time out. Wolfsburg, however, are a different kettle of fish altogether and Hummels’ experience may prove to be the key in curbing the Wolves’ vast array of attacking threats.
Verdict: Dortmund 8/10
Borussia Dortmund have been in imperious form going forward this season, scoring goals for fun, and they should be on a high after their outstanding performance last weekend. The form of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Kagawa has been nothing short of sensational this season and I can see them dominating a Wolfsburg defence that will be without Dante.
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