Lucien Favre: "We need to play intelligently to stop him"
Saturday (15:30 CET) sees BVB take on VfL Wolfsburg, a team that has yet to lose a game in the Bundesliga this season. Coach Lucien Favre is hoping his charges can build on the momentum from their cup triumph over Borussia Mönchengladbach.
"It's always good when you turn a game around. Above all, it was deserved: we had more possession and a lot of chances," said Favre as he reflected on reaching the last 16 of the cup. It was another good home performance from the Black & Yellows, who have lost only one of their last 21 Bundesliga games in front of their own fans (W17 D3).
Strength at the heart of defence
The convincing performances of centre-backs Dan-Axel Zagadou and Manuel Akanji – who boasted tackle win rates of 82 and 100 percent respectively on Wednesday – is another sign there might be a positive result on the cards for BVB, who are unbeaten in eight league meetings with VfL Wolfsburg. Another standout performer in midweek was Marwin Hitz, who won the title with the Wolves in 2009. The Swiss shot-stopper made several key saves.
There was positive news from the training ground too. While Paco Alcácer was already back in the matchday squad for the cup clash with Gladbach, Roman Bürki has now returned to team training too. "Marco Reus and Mats Hummels still haven't been able to train today. We need to wait and see," explained Favre at the press conference.
"Not only did he score two goals, but he helped out in defence as well"
The visitors from Wolfsburg will go into Saturday's match on the back of a rather heavy cup defeat: the Wolves were beaten 6-1 by Leipzig in the Second Round. "A defeat like the one last night can happen," said Favre, who was quick to add: "Wout Weghorst is very important for them, he's very dangerous – especially in the penalty area. We need to play intelligently to stop him." In the 2019 calendar year, Weghorst is the second-most prolific forward in the Bundesliga behind Bayern's Lewandowski with 23 scorer points (16 goals, seven assists).
In addition to defender Dan-Axel Zagadou, Favre singled out Julian Brandt for special praise. The attacking midfielder scored two goals to help BVB turn the cup tie on its head and his performance is likely to have earned him a starting spot on Saturday. "He was playing very high. But he was still playing more in midfield than he was in attack. He performed well and not only did he score two goals, but he intelligently helped out in defence as well."
More of the same will be required to beat the team currently fourth in the table. But BVB can take heart from the fact they have scored in each of their last 29 Bundesliga home games, setting a new club record in the process. Meanwhile, vice-captain Lukasz Piszczek is approaching a personal landmark: if he plays on Saturday, it will be his 300th appearance in the Bundesliga.