This preview is brought to us by Edgar Avalos (@Bayer04LevMX). He previews the big Bundesliga matchup between Bayer and Dortmund. Two teams currently at opposite ends of the table.
This Sunday, the Bundesliga will finish its 5th week with a game that is bound to attract a lot of attention from this side of the Atlantic. Bayer Leverkusen will make their way to the Westfalenstadion to face the celebrated Yellow Wall that will be supporting Borussia Dortmund.
This is a battle of two teams most people expect to finish high in the table at the end of the season. That’s certainly not the case for Leverkusen at the moment, with the club stuck in 13th place after 6 points collected in 4 games, with the last two games ending in defeat away at Bayern München and at home to Darmstadt. Dortmund, on the other hand, have been looking impressive under new coach Thomas Tuchel, who has swiftly erased from memory the last disastrous season the club had under Jürgen Klopp. Tuchel swiftly removed some of Klopp’s faithful soldiers, shipping Kevin Grosskreutz to Turkey, Kuba Blaszczykowski to Italy and Roman Weidenfeller to the bench His acquisition of 19 year old youngster Julian Weigl from 1860 München looks like a masterstroke, as the teenager has excelled in the midfield along Ilkay Gündogan, and they surely are one of the main reasons why Dortmund count all their official games this seasons as victories, with a perfect record of ten out of ten so far.
One player Tuchel wasn’t impressed with was Kevin Kampl. The German-born Slovenian lasted only 8 months at Dortmund, failing to impress both Klopp and then Tuchel, and the former Red Bull Salzburg player quietly returned home to Leverkusen in the last days of the transfer window, re-joining the team where he spent his formative years. Also reuniting with Roger Schmidt, who was his manager at Salzburg. Kampl looks certain to start against Dortmund, probably in place of the injured captain Lars Bender, which means there won’t be a reunion with this twin brother Sven, who is playing at Dortmund. The question everyone is asking though is if Javier “Chicharito” Hernández will start.
It certainly was a surprise to many to see him in the starting eleven against Bate Borisov in the Champions League. Not because he is not good enough, but because Schmidt had previously shown enormous faith in Stefan Kiessling to lead the team upfront. Though Kiessling’s goal scoring record has been proven time and time again, his last season wasn’t his best, and even in his longest goal drought, Schmidt proved very reluctant to bench him. A situation that frustrated Josip Drmic enough that it drove him to join Gladbach after only one season at the BayArena. It may be that Schmidt is more open to rotations this season, or that Chicharito has certainly caught his eye and he’s ready to make him his first-choice striker. In any case, this is one of those games that could mark a change of fortunes for the players and team. A third straight defeat in the Bundesliga was not something that was on the cards at the beginning of the season, and surely would send some alarm bells ringing in the club. On the other hand, handing Dortmund its first defeat of the season would surely be seen as a turning point for fans and press alike, and could see players like Kampl, Mehmedi and Chicharito, should they have a good game, consolidating their status as first choice players.
BVB: Burki; Ginter, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer; Weigl, Gündogan, Kagawa, Mkhitaryan; Reus, Aubameyang
B04: Leno; Hilbert, Papadopoulos, Tah, Wenderll; Kampl, Kramer; Bellarabi, Calhanoglu, Mehmedi; Chicharito/Kiessling