You really couldn’t ask for more than this year’s Bundesliga race has given us. As tight as it stands, as Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig get ready to face off, each has a varyingly realistic shot at the league title, while a top four spot is still far from secure. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for a league match that could have huge implications.
Dortmund vs. Leipzig Odds
As the home side, Dortmund are slight favorites at +120, with Leipzig set at +180 and the draw at +270. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is favored at -170, while the under is +130.
Dortmund vs. Leipzig Prediction & Pick
For both teams, this is a season that has so much potential, but nothing promised. There’s the thrilling league title race in which both teams are alive as of right now, and the two are actually slated to face off in a DFB-Pokal quarterfinal in April. And of course, the Champions league, where Germany as a whole is making its mark; Dortmund lead 1-0 after one leg against Chelsea, and Leipzig snatched a somewhat surprising 1-1 comeback draw from Premier League favorites Manchester City. Both teams are in good form since the post-World Cup Bundesliga restart, especially Dortmund who have won every game, and both sides have welcomed back a much-needed attacker. For Leipzig, it’s Christopher Nkunku, who had been one of the best players in the league before the World Cup, but missed some time after an injury, while Dortmund’s Sebastien Haller has been re-acclimating himself to the pitch following his remarkable recovery from testicular cancer.
This is going to be a great game to watch and thus a tough one to pick, but I am going to have to go with the favorites, Dortmund +120. Edin Terzic’s men are in crazy form, and picking against them at home- where they’ve scored 13 goals in just 3 Bundesliga matches since the World Cup- would be ludicrous. The goalscoring total is even tougher; sides are tied for second in Germany in terms of both goals for and against, and while Dortmund are in strong attacking form, Leipzig have defended quite well of late. I am going to take over 2.5 goals at -170, although I’m not in love with the value so I’d be looking for that number to move; I like Dortmund’s relatively egalitarian attack, and don’t know if Leipzig have the ability to keep them out of the attacking third enough to limit them.
The Midfield Battle
While there’s contributors up and down the lineup for each side, both have been characterized in large part by strong midfield play, as they’re second and third in the Bundesliga in possession, with averages sitting right around 57% with Dortmund being just a touch higher. They have particularly been led by excellent midfield play, namely through two stars. One of those is Jude Bellingham, one of the most coveted youngsters in the World, who plays anywhere from a CDM to a more attacking position in the middle. The other is the more-attacking Julian Brandt, who is once again having a somewhat-quietly excellent season. There’s other contributors as well, from veterans like Emre Can and Marco Reus to young talents such as Karim Adeyemi, so Marco Rose can line this unit up a lot of different ways, making them really tough to predict.
Leipzig’s best player this year, other than perhaps Nkunku, has arguably been Hungarian talent Dominik Szoboszlai, who plays primarily as a CAM but is versatile enough to chip in at a lot of different positions as he is by far the team leader with 8 assists in league play. Behind him is usually the Austrian duo Konrad Laimer and Xavier Schlager, who sit back in more of a holding role. Schlager has been particularly strong individually this year, although the real strength for these players is as a unit. They didn’t hold the ball particularly well against Manchester City, attaining just 38% possession so that’ll be an area where they’re looking to be stronger, but they did create 3 big chances against a top side- that big-play potential will be something to look for as they attempt to pull off another upset
Dortmund Attack vs. Leipzig Defense
In year 1 of life without Erling Haaland, Dortmund have maintained one of the top attacks in Germany without a clear focal point of the front line. A lot of the production comes from the midfield as Brandt, who is more midfielder than forward, leads the team with 8 goals in the league, and Bellingham, a true midfielder, is tops with 10 goals in all competitions. American talent Gio Reyna is third on the team in league scoring, despite having played 503 minutes (Brandt has played nearly 1,700) and making just four starts; we’ll see if his performance earns him more playing time going forward. Youssoufa Moukoko has also made an impact with 6 goals and 3 assists in less than 1,000 minutes, but he’s an injury doubt for this matchup. Haller has shown flashes of his peak brilliance as he makes his admirable comeback, but has yet to find the consistency as he readjusts to the game.
The biggest headline-grabber in the entire Leipzig lineup might just be young Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol, who had an outstanding World Cup, clamped down Erling Haaland, and scored the equalizer against City. But in league play, the team’s best defender has undoubtedly been Hungarian veteran and acting team captain Willi Orban who, along with Gvardiol, makes up one of the best and surely the most underrated centre-back pairing in the world. Those two are the stars of the defense, with the fullback duo being a rotating mix of players, some of whom are playing somewhat out of position, while David Raum and Marcel Halstenberg have probably been the two most consistent contributors in that position group. This defense showed against City that they can stop Europe’s most potent attacks; they’ll have another chance to do the same on Friday.