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Edin Terzic will be reasonably happy with his team’s start to the season and a win here would be a good result.
Back Borussia Dortmund to beat Koln (+100)
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Borussia Dortmund are exactly where they expected to be after seven rounds of Bundesliga fixtures: second place. The only surprise is that it is not Bayern Munich that they trail. Instead, Union Berlin are the league leaders as club soccer gets ready to return this weekend following a brief pause for the conclusion of the 2022/23 Nations League group phase. Bayern are way down in fifth after a run of four games without a win, leaving Dortmund fans wondering whether a title tilt might be possible after all.
No one at Signal Iduna Park is getting carried away. It is true that Bayern have underwhelmed in their last three fixtures (before that, they dominated Borussia Monchengladbach and were only held to a 1-1 draw thanks to some record-breaking heroics from opposition goalkeeper Yann Sommer). But no one expects the champions’ mini-slump to last too much longer. The exit of Robert Lewandowski in the summer always made it likely that Bayern would experience a degree of turbulence as they adjust to a new approach.
For Dortmund to mount a championship challenge, two things usually need to happen: Bayern must underperform and BVB must operate close to full capacity. Since they can only control one of those factors, Dortmund should not concern themselves with what Julian Nagelsmann’s men are getting up to. Instead, the focus from Edin Terzic’s side should be on improving their own performances, which have been far from flawless.
Erling Haaland is already the Premier League top scorer by some distance, and it is only natural that BVB have not been as efficient in attack without him. Anthony Modeste had a good record for upcoming opponents Koln but he is not in Haaland’s class, while Marco Reus is now out with an ankle injury that leaves him facing a race against time to be fit for the 2022 World Cup. Dortmund might be ahead of Bayern, but it has not been entirely smooth sailing at Signal Iduna Park either.
Koln finished seventh last year, an achievement which probably would have garnered more attention had Union Berlin and Freiburg not sprung even bigger surprises of their own. Qualifying for the Europa Conference League was a mark of significant progress for a team that had been involved in the relegation play-off in 2020/21, and Koln will once again be looking to challenge for continental competition this term.
Losing Modeste in the summer was a blow, especially as his move to Dortmund only came about once the season was already under way. Yet Koln have shrugged off that loss to make a largely positive start to 2022/23. Steffen Baumgart’s side have only been defeated once so far – Dortmund, for their part, have lost twice – and even that reverse was by a narrow 1-0 margin at the hands of league leaders Union Berlin.
Koln have only won two matches, though, with four draws higher than every other team in the division but Stuttgart. In fairness, two of the ties came in tough away games against RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt, when a point on the road could be considered a positive outcome.
Koln are top of their group in the Conference League, but the next few weeks will post a stern test as they juggle European and domestic commitments: Baumgart’s men will play 12 games in the next seven weeks.
With just nine goals in their first seven matches, Dortmund have an identical attacking record to 15th-placed Bayer Leverkusen. They have been reasonably solid at the back, however, keeping clean sheets in a majority of their outings. Four of Dortmund’s five wins have been by a 1-0 scoreline, which is highly unusual for a club more associated with 4-3s and 5-4s. Terzic would welcome another low-key triumph this weekend.
Koln will put up a fight. As mentioned above, their opponents to date have found them to be an obdurate and stubborn side. They have collected six points from losing positions, a sure-fire sign of a team that does not know when it is beaten. Even if BVB go ahead at the RheinEnergieSTADION, Koln will not let their heads drop.
Ultimately, though, the visitors should have enough quality to get the job done. BVB fans can have more confidence in the team’s defense than they did last term, which is just as well given that their attack is weaker.
Terzic’s side have not set the world alight in the early part of 2022/23, but Dortmund have, for the most part, been finding a way to get the job done. We reckon that will continue on Saturday – back an away win in this one.
|Teams||Koln vs Borussia Dortmund|
|Location||RheinEnergieSTADION, Koln, Germany|
|Time||Saturday, 1 October 2022, 9.30 AM EST|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
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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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