Borussia Dortmund aim to beat second-placed RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Saturday to avenge defeat in their last encounter and cut the promoted team’s surprise lead over the Ruhr valley club.
RB Leipzig beat Dortmund 1-0 back in September and have not looked back. Owned by energy drinks maker Red Bull, they are in second place, three points behind leaders Bayern Munich and 11 ahead of fourth-placed Dortmund.
Dismissed at the start of the season by Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke as a team set up merely “to sell soda cans”, Leipzig have won 11 of their last 13 league games to become the main challengers to Bayern’s quest for a record-extending fifth consecutive league title.
That was the role that Dortmund were supposed to play at the start of the season. But Thomas Tuchel’s team have been as inconsistent in the Bundesliga as they have been consistent in the Champions League, where they have advanced to the knockout stage.
“We are limping a bit behind our expectations and we have the feeling that we have a few points less than we should have,” said Tuchel. Dortmund have won just one of their last five league matches.
“We know we are in a position to get those points back even though it will be a long road and it will be hard.”
Leipzig have won five of their nine away matches this season and lost just twice on the road.
They are, however, likely to be without their top striker Timo Werner, with the 20-year-old, who has scored 11 times so far, missing training through illness.
Attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg is ruled out, still serving out a suspension, with Davie Selke a candidate to replace Werner and partner Yusuf Poulsen up front.
“Leipzig are on the march and they are winning every game,” said Dortmund winger Andre Schuerrle. “What we are missing a bit at the moment is winning those scrappy games. It feels a bit like we are treading water.”
Leaders Bayern, three points clear at the top on 45, take on Schalke 04 with captain Philipp Lahm set to make his 500th appearance for the Bavarians.
Eintracht Frankfurt, third on 32, a point ahead of Dortmund, host bottom side Darmstadt 98 on Sunday.