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The Bundesliga resumes this weekend after a lengthy winter break post-World Cup
Borussia Dortmund have work to do if they are to be Bayern Munich’s title rivals
Augsburg were on a bad run before the pause and could be in relegation trouble
The odds for Borussia Dortmund vs Augsburg are brought to you by the FanDuel sportsbook, where a $1000 no-sweat bet is being offered to new customers who sign up.
Edin Terzic’s side need a victory and they should get one in a comfortable fashion here.
Back Borussia Dortmund to win both halves when they take on Augsburg this weekend. (+200)
Borussia Dortmund have plenty of work to do. Some Bundesliga teams will have enjoyed the mid-season hiatus, which encompassed World Cup 2022 as well as the traditional winter break. But Dortmund are one of the sides who would probably have preferred to return to action sooner than the second half of January.
That is simply because of how the campaign has gone so far. Dortmund sit sixth in the standings, a whole nine points behind Bayern Munich in top spot. That gap may well have increased to 12 points by the time this match kicks off on Sunday, with Bayern due to face RB Leipzig two days earlier.
Winning the Bundesliga title was never an overly realistic objective for BVB this term. The financial disparity between them and Bayern is substantial, and the Bavarian outfit have dominated Germany’s top flight over the last decade, winning 10 titles in a row.
Even so, Dortmund would not have expected to be so far behind Bayern at this stage of the season - especially as Julian Nagelsmann’s men have not been flawless themselves, dropping points in a third of their 15 outings to date. The frustration is not so much that the title has gone, but that BVB could have a fight on their hands to finish in the top four.
German soccer pundits and the best online sportsbooks alike still believe Dortmund will qualify for the Champions League relatively comfortably, and they are indeed only two points behind fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt at present.
But BVB could definitely do with a strong run of form over the next few weeks. Their next three matches are against teams currently in the bottom half of the table, and Terzic will no doubt be targeting nine points from nine in those fixtures. A slip-up or two would only intensify the feeling that a top-four finish is by no means guaranteed for Dortmund this term.
Augsburg finished 14th last term and that is the position in the table they occupy as the 2022/23 campaign gets ready to restart this weekend. There were relegation concerns at the WWK Arena before the season began and they will not have been alleviated by a poor run of form immediately before the World Cup.
Augsburg have been unable to break out of a boom and bust cycle. They lost four of their first five games, leaving Enrico Maassen’s side - the club’s head coach left a role as the manager of Dortmund’s reserve team to join Augsburg last summer - in a precarious position.
The Fuggerstadter then won three matches on the spin to climb into mid-table, but a seven-game winless streak prior to the tournament in Qatar means they are once again looking over their shoulder at the bottom three.
Ahead of this tricky trip to Signal Iduna Park, Augsburg are just a point clear of the relegation play-off spot and two above the automatic places. Only Bochum and Schalke have scored fewer goals than Maassen’s men, who also have the joint-sixth worst defensive record in the division.
Augsburg could have dismissed Maassen over the winter break but they instead stuck with their man, which suggests they intend to do so for a while longer yet.
But if the team continues to struggle and drops into the relegation places, the former Dortmund employee could be in trouble. Even if Augsburg lose this match, a decent performance is essential.
Dortmund lost back-to-back matches before the pause for the World Cup, but those defeats were more than two months ago so they will not have any effect here. Having had plenty of time to rest and recuperate post-Qatar, Dortmund’s players should be refreshed and raring to go on Sunday.
In front of a packed and passionate crowd at Signal Iduna Park, we should expect Terzic’s charges to make a fast start against an Augsburg team that will initially focus on simply setting up in a compact and narrow defensive shape, with little regard for offering an attacking threat.
If Augsburg are able to hold out for the opening half an hour or so, they will grow in confidence. For Dortmund, then, the key is making the breakthrough early on. That would force their opponents to push up the pitch and take more risks, which would in turn play into BVB’s hands.
This Dortmund team is not as free-scoring as the one from last season, which is to be expected given Erling Haaland departed in the summer. But we still fancy the hosts to pick up all three points with not too much difficulty this weekend. Back Dortmund to win both halves against Augsburg.
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Teams: Borussia Dortmund vs Augsburg
Location: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
Time: Sunday 22 January 2023, 9.30 AM EST
How to Watch: ESPN+
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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