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Back over 3.5 goals when Borussia Dortmund lock horns with Bayer Leverkusen this weekend.
Both teams will be going all-out for victory on matchday one and that should produce an entertaining encounter.
Pick made on 08/02/2022 at 4:45 PM EST
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For Borussia Dortmund, the objective is at once straightforward and difficult. It is only natural that a team which has finished second in three of the last four seasons should aspire to win the Bundesliga title this term. At the same time, doing so would require BVB to finish above Bayern Munich, and no German side has managed that in 10 years. The financial disparity between the Bundesliga’s two biggest clubs is such that the only way to conceive of a Dortmund title triumph is to imagine Bayern suffering some sort of dramatic implosion.
In fact, it is arguably more likely that Dortmund will finish third rather than first. This has been a summer of change at Signal Iduna Park. After just one season at the helm, Marco Rose was dismissed at the end of last season. He was replaced by the man he succeeded: Edin Terzic, previously Dortmund’s interim boss, has been handed the reins on a full-time basis. That is a tacit admission from the board that they made a mistake in overlooking Terzic last summer.
There has also been significant turnover in the squad. More than most clubs, Dortmund are used to that. Their entire business model is dependent on buying up-and-coming stars and moving them on for a profit two or three years later. The latest big name to depart is Erling Haaland, who will be attempting to win the Premier League title with Manchester City this season. His intended replacement, Sebastien Haller, has been diagnosed with testicular cancer.
BVB have also done deals for Niklas Sule, Karim Adeyemi and Nico Schlotterbeck among others, while Axel Witsel has joined Atletico Madrid on a free transfer. Those signings have been overseen by the new sporting CEO Sebastian Kehl – yet another change within the Dortmund hierarchy. A title tilt will surely be beyond a team and a club in transition.
If Dortmund are to be forced out of the runners-up spot, it will likely be by one of RB Leipzig or Bayer Leverkusen. It is the latter who finished third last season, as the manager Gerardo Seoane exceeded expectations in his first campaign in charge. Leverkusen had only the sixth-best defensive record in the division, but Bayern and Dortmund were the only sides who found the back of the net more often.
Leverkusen have had a much quieter summer than their upcoming opponents. Seoane remains the man in the dugout with the CEO Fernando Carro continuing in his role upstairs alongside Simon Rolfes, who will oversee sporting operations after Rudi Voller’s retirement. They have only acquired one player in Adam Hlozek, and at the age of 20 he is by no means guaranteed a starting berth from the get-go.
Crucially, Leverkusen have not sold anyone they did not want to. Julian Baumgartlinger, who turns 35 in January, was let go at the end of his contract. Lucas Alario was sold to Eintracht Frankfurt. But the core of the team that finished in the top four and qualified for the Champions League last season remains at the Bay-Arena.
Crucially, that includes Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz, who contributed a combined 34 goals last season. The continued presence of those two players in this side means there is no reason for Seoane to move away from an attack-minded approach that served Leverkusen well last time out.
Leverkusen will view Saturday’s showdown as an opportunity for them to make a statement of intent on matchday one. Bayern Munich are virtually uncatchable at the top of the Bundesliga, but there is no reason why they cannot beat Dortmund to the second spot, especially as BVB are going through a period of change. The best way to demonstrate their credentials would be to win at Signal Iduna Park.
Leverkusen will attempt to do so by playing front-foot, attack-minded soccer. Dortmund, as is their wont, will fight fire with fire. It is not in BVB’s nature to sit back and try and contain their opponents, and Terzic’s side will look to get on the ball and dominate possession on their own patch.
The winners will be the viewers. This has the makings of a hugely entertaining contest between two teams who will strive to outscore the other. The sportsbooks recognize that too, hence odds of -105 on four goals or more. That still represents value, though, and it is our suggested pick for Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen in the late kick-off on Saturday.
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|Teams||Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen|
|Location||Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany|
|Time||Saturday, 6 August 2022, 12.30 PM 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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