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Terzic’s side are in excellent form and their opponents have tended to struggle in the big games this season.
Borussia Dortmund to Win (+128)
|Wolfsburg vs Borussia Dortmund|
|What||Wolfsburg vs Borussia Dortmund|
|Where||Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany|
|When||Saturday, 24 April 2021, 09.30 AM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
Borussia Dortmund looked dead and buried in the top-four race a few weeks ago, but a fine run of form has seen them close the gap. Three wins on the bounce mean Edin Terzic’s charges go into this game in a confident mood, but defeat by a Champions League rival would leave BVB in a difficult position.
Wolfsburg were victorious in midweek but lost their two previous matches to fellow top-six sides. Their record in the biggest games this season is rather mediocre, so back Dortmund to extend their winning run with victory at the Volkswagen Arena.
The world of European soccer has been dominated this week by the proposed Super League, which crashed and burned with 48 hours of the details becoming public on Sunday. To their credit, neither Bayern Munich nor Borussia Dortmund signed up to the project, which would have spelled the end of soccer on the continent as we know it. Both clubs stayed loyal to UEFA and the Champions League, and Dortmund are now seeking to qualify for next season’s edition of it.
They have work to do. With just four games remaining, Dortmund are four points adrift of the top four and could fall seven points behind the final Champions League qualification spot if they suffer defeat on Saturday. The club’s finances have already taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic – an affliction that is not unique to BVB – but missing out on Europe’s foremost competition would be a further blow to the balance sheet. It could also force Dortmund to cash in on Jadon Sancho or Erling Haaland this summer, so there is plenty at stake for the club in the coming weeks.
There is cause for optimism, though. Dortmund have won each of their last three games in the Bundesliga, overcoming Stuttgart 3-2, Werder Bremen 4-1 and Union Berlin 2-0. They also gave a good account of themselves against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, despite losing both legs 2-1.
Inconsistency has blighted Dortmund throughout this season, and they may yet suffer another downturn that would be fatal to their top-four hopes, but Terzic and his players will be reasonably confident of a fourth consecutive league victory when they take on Wolfsburg this weekend.
Bayern Munich were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain last week, and Wolfsburg hoped to pile more misery on the Bundesliga kings when they met a few days later. Instead, Oliver Glasner’s side were edged out by Bayern, who won 3-2 to tighten their grip on top spot.
Wolfsburg needed to bounce back in the midweek round of fixtures – and that is precisely what they did. A 3-1 win at Stuttgart kept them in third place, but Glasner and his players cannot start celebrating Champions League qualification just yet. Wolfsburg are only a point clear of fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, by whom they were beaten earlier this month, and five clear of Dortmund. Defeat on Saturday would blow the top-four race wide open, and perhaps even make BVB the new favorites to finish third.
Wolfsburg have prided themselves on their tight defense this term. Only RB Leipzig’s backline has been breached on fewer occasions than Wolfsburg’s, which has given up a goal a game on average. Yet there have been concerning signs of late that the defense might be losing some of its resolve. The Wolves shipped three goals against Bayern and four against Eintracht. Glasner’s team have kept a clean sheet in just one of their last five matches.
Granted, Wolfsburg have also shown more of an attacking threat in recent games, notching twice against Bayern, and three times against each of Eintracht and Stuttgart. It will be interesting to see whether this change of emphasis will continue against Dortmund, whose own defense has creaked at various times this season.
Alternatively, Glasner might chose to go back to basics, with BVB’s superior firepower making them favorites to win an open, end-to-end encounter. The Wolfsburg boss has a difficult decision to make, particularly as he will be aware that his team have come unstuck on many of the big occasions this term.
There is no shame in losing home and away to Bayern, whose budget dwarfs Wolfsburg’s. And it is also worth remembering that few expected the Wolves to be in third place at this late stage of the season. Yet Wolfsburg have won only one of their six games against fellow top-five teams in the Bundesliga this term, as well as losing to RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal. That does not bode well for a clash with a Dortmund team that has the bit between its teeth.
Indeed, BVB seem to have recaptured their focus and intensity. The players know that they cannot afford any more slip-ups, and key men have stepped up to be counted. The job is not done yet, but it is starting to look like Dortmund will qualify for the Champions League after all.
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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