With the ‘Klassiker’ conflict in opposition to Bayern Munich on the horizon, Borussia Dortmund will wish to keep away from a lack of focus in opposition to Cologne on Sunday with a title on the road.
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Whereas Dortmund have had their share of woes in opposition to higher sides lately, their title challenges have really come undone in poor performances in opposition to the league’s outmatched however spirited underdogs.
Led by pugnacious supervisor Steffen Baumgart, typically seen on the sideline sporting only a flat cap and a t-shirt within the German winter chill, no membership embodies the underdog spirit greater than Cologne.
Dortmund have stuttered after their barnstorming begin to 2023 of 10 wins in 10 matches got here to an finish with a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea, leading to elimination from the Champions League.
That loss was adopted by a 2-2 draw at struggling Schalke, as an outgunned however dogged house aspect equalised twice.
A return to successful methods by Dortmund on Saturday would raise them a degree away from Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga desk, for a minimum of one night time.
Bayern journey to Xavi Alonso’s unpredictable Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Dortmund’s subsequent match after Cologne is in opposition to Bayern.
Dortmund haven’t received a league match in Munich because the 2013-14 season, when Jurgen Klopp was nonetheless in cost, one motive they’ve been perennial German soccer bridesmaids since their final title in 2012.
When Dortmund visited Cologne in October they’d an opportunity to go high however, regardless of taking an early lead, misplaced 3-2.
That outcome was in Dortmund boss Edin Terzic’s thoughts on Thursday when he mentioned “we’ve been warned sufficient” about Cologne
Cologne are on a run of poor kind however know one other outcome in opposition to a title challenger may put them again heading in the right direction.
After beginning 2023 with a five-match unbeaten run, together with a draw at Bayern, Cologne have misplaced three of their previous 4 with out scoring, giving rise to fears the Twelfth-placed aspect could also be drawn right into a relegation battle.
Baumgart mentioned his aspect partied just a little too arduous throughout Cologne’s well-known Carnival celebrations in February and are paying the value.
“I don’t wish to offend anybody, however I’ve now had my expertise with the carnival,” the supervisor, who joined Cologne through the Covid pandemic, mentioned on Thursday.
“That wasn’t good for us.
“Sooner or later, I’ll try to do issues otherwise.”
One to look at: Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)
The France worldwide defender’s latest turnaround has mirrored that of his membership, who now sit two factors clear on the high of the Bundesliga.
Bayern stumbled after the winter break however have now re-established their dominance within the league and in Europe.
After scoring his second in Bayern’s 5-3 win over Augsburg — his first brace in skilled soccer — Pavard confronted the stands and tapped his badge, a sight unthinkable in January when rumours swirled that the World Cup winner needed out.
Pavard confirmed his committment in early March, saying Bayern “can obtain nice issues this season” and “I’m not leaving the ship in the midst of the journey”.
6 – Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane has had six targets dominated out for offside this season, essentially the most of any participant within the high 5 European leagues.
0 – Hoffenheim have been the one membership within the backside 5 to lose final spherical and are useless final on 19 factors.
6/7 – Bayern have received six of their final seven in opposition to Leverkusen, a run of victories that features the 2020 German Cup ultimate.
Fixtures (all instances 1430 GMT except in any other case said)
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Werder Bremen (1930)
Augsburg v Schalke, Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, Stuttgart v Wolfsburg, Bochum v RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund v Cologne (1730)
Union Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich (1630), Mainz v Freiburg (1830)