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Borussia Dortmund need the points more than RB Leipzig, and home advantage could help them on their way.
Back BVB to win the match (+110)
|Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig Information|
|Teams||Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig|
|Location||Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany|
|Time||Saturday, 8 May 2021, 09.30 AM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN|
At the start of every season, Borussia Dortmund hopes to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title. That has become increasingly difficult to do in recent years, such is the financial advantage enjoyed by the Bavarian outfit. In the 2019/20 campaign, Bayern reported total revenue of €698 million, while Dortmund brought in €370.2 million. It is difficult for BVB to compete given the disparity, as well as the fact that Bayern – unlike some other superclubs around Europe – tend to spend their money wisely.
It has been clear that Dortmund were not going to win the Bundesliga since November when a 3-2 defeat by Bayern kick-started a rotten run of form that ultimately led to the departure of Lucien Favre. Edin Terzic stepped in to take charge of the team on an interim basis until next season when Borussia Monchengladbach head coach Marco Rose will be tasked with getting Dortmund closer to the top of the table.
There is plenty to play for in the interim. Dortmund are through to the final of the DFB-Pokal, where they will face upcoming opponents RB Leipzig. It is a chance for the club to win its first major trophy (excluding the DFB/DFL-Supercup) since 2017. More important, though, is the race for the top four in the Bundesliga. For reasons of prestige, Dortmund need to be Champions League regulars. It is also hugely important financially, particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, qualification for Europe’s foremost club competition might help Dortmund keep hold of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland in the summer transfer market. Both players continue to be linked with moves away from Signal Iduna Park, and overturning the one-point deficit separating BVB from the fourth place could be crucial to the club’s chances of retaining their two prized assets.
RB Leipzig also began the campaign hoping they might be able to battle for the title, although that was always going to require Bayern taking a backward step. In fairness to Julian Nagelsmann’s side, they have made a better fist of it than Dortmund and look set to finish second, although the title is almost certainly beyond them – a failure to win on Saturday would in effect send the championship to the Allianz Arena for the ninth year on the bounce.
Leipzig can be pleased with their efforts this term, though. They are on course to finish as runners-up in the top tier for only the second time, having opened up a seven-point lead over Wolfsburg in third place. They have not dropped out of the top two since the start of the year and possess the best defensive record in the division, while four of their five defeats have come by a one-goal margin.
Like Dortmund, Leipzig will have a new manager in the dugout in August. Nagelsmann has already been confirmed as Bayern’s next boss, with Hansi Flick poised to step down at the end of the season. Leipzig, as they have done in the past, have turned to sister club Red Bull Salzburg, whose manager Jesse Marsch will be in charge next term.
Leipzig are a well-run club that rarely get the big decisions wrong, but there is still an element of uncertainty going into next season. Nagelsmann was a major asset and one they probably expected to keep hold of beyond the current campaign. Leipzig’s track record, though, will fill the club’s supporters with confidence.
A 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt a month ago looked to have ended Dortmund’s chances of a top-four finish, but they have bounced back admirably since then. Consecutive victories over Stuttgart, Werder Bremen, Union Berlin and Wolfsburg have moved BVB back to within a touching distance of the Champions League qualification spots, and even a third-place finish is no longer out of the question.
Dortmund have the bit between their teeth, having discovered a focus that has eluded them for much of the season. This team still has flaws – their defensive record is only the sixth-best in the Bundesliga, for instance – but their consistency of late suggests BVB will end the campaign in the top four.
A win here is pivotal to those ambitions, and Dortmund will be encouraged by Leipzig’s patchy form of late. They required extra time to squeeze past Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals, and have failed to win three of their last five Bundesliga encounters. Nagelsmann is a consummate professional who will be giving his all for the remainder of the season, but it would not be a huge surprise if the recent announcement of his upcoming move to Bayern has had an effect on the players inside the dressing room.
This game is much more important for Dortmund than Leipzig. That, together with home advantage and their excellent recent form, should be enough for BVB to triumph.
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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