The Bundesliga returns this weekend following the international break and arguably the most mouth-watering fixture is Saturday’s late kick-off between new-boys RB Leipzig and title challengers Borussia Dortmund.
On the surface, this game is so enticing due to its off-field context; Leipzig, the German contingent of Dietrich Mateschitz’s infamous Red Bull empire, are polar opposites to Dortmund, who represent more traditional bastions of fan empowerment. Such an inherent clash of cultures, and the hatred of Leipzig from nearly all Bundesliga fans, should make this fixture just that little bit more enthralling.
Both teams had players involved during the international break. For BVB, five of the eleven who started against FSV Mainz 05 on matchday one were involved in their respective World Cup qualifiers, while another five of Leipzig’s internationals made some form of appearance for their national sides.
Leipzig’s quintet included Scottish record signing Oliver Burke, who made starred in a 5-1 win against Malta. 19-year-old Burke, whose stunning £13m move went through in the final days of the transfer window, is expected to make his first outing for the club on Saturday evening, albeit if only from the bench. Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who signed for Leipzig on loan on deadline day, is also set for his first appearance for the club, having been handed the number five jersey for the season.
For Dortmund, who got their business done before the deadline, we will see a very similar team to the one which dispatched Mainz on the opening day. The only change could be the second debut of another new signing, as Thomas Tuchel has already said that Mario Götze could be in line for a start. Sven Bender is still lacking sharpness, however, and will once again miss out.
The interruption of an international break was wholly unwelcome, especially after just one game, but the teams had differing degrees of success on the opening weekend. Dortmund, for instance, put in a competent display against Mainz during which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the net twice. Leipzig, however, will also be somewhat geed up by their opening weekend outing at Hoffenheim, where a 90th minute equaliser from Marcel Sabitzer rescued a 2-2 draw for the East Germans. They may well be buoyed by this late salvation as they head into their first home game of the season at the impressive 44,000-seater Red Bull Arena.
RB Leipzig (4-2-2-2): Péter Gulácsi; Benno Schmitz, Willi Orban, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Lukas Klostermann; Stefan Ilsanker, Diego Demme; Dominik Kaiser, Marcel Sabitzer; Timo Werner, Yussuf Poulsen
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Roman Bürki; Felix Passlack, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Marc Bartra, Marcel Schmelzer; Gonzalo Castro, Sebastian Rode; Ousmane Dembélé, Mario Götze, André Schürrle; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Home advantage is always crucial for any newly promoted side in any division, so don’t expect Leipzig to take anything lying down. On the contrary, they already demonstrated last week that they’re a difficult team to outscore. That said, this Dortmund side are gunning for the title and with Götze back in the side, they’ll be oozing creativity once again – I’m going to go for an entertaining 2-1 win for BVB.