Moritz Leitner of Dortmund controls the ball during a training session at the Dortmund Brackel training ground ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group match against Arsenal London at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach are surprisingly both ahead of Bayern Munich and fighting a one-versus-two battle on top of the Bundesliga table on Saturday.
In some parts of the world (read: England), this game will be seen as a showcase of future Premier League stars. To those who do not believe that the entire sporting world revolves around a small island, it's a clash between the two top teams in the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach meet up in Gladbach with both teams in great form, and all eyes will be on Gladbach's Marco Reus and Mario Götze.
Unfortunately for Gladbach fans and neutrals, Reus is questionable. He broke a toe last weekend in his team's win against FC Köln and is a game-time decision. However, though this is not as intense of a rivalry as the Revierderby that Dortmund contested last week, the Borussenderby is a reasonably important derby. Though it dropped in status as Gladbach lost their own status as the second biggest team in Germany, this game is an important one to the supporters of Die Fohlen and it will also be personally important to Reus, who played for Dortmund's youth team.
Sven Bender is still out for Dortmund with a broken jaw, while Moritz Leitner picked up an injury in training this week. This means that Ilkay Gündogan could finally be released from the doghouse and re-inserted into the starting lineup alongside Sebastian Kehl. There were high hopes for Gündogan coming into this season following his impressive two years with Nürnburg, but a combination of average performances, Leitner's speedy emergence and Kehl's return to fitness have kept him out of the team.
The meeting between these teams from last November is completely irrelevant due to the turnaround engineered by Lucien Fave, but Gladbach's April 23 victory certainly isn't. On that day at Borussia Park, Gladbach proved tough to break down while Marc-Andre ter Stegen had an excellent game in goal, as the home side stole a 1-0 victory to help keep them from being relegated.
They have proved to be extremely difficult to break down during this season, while ter Stegen guided his team to a similar 1-0 win over Bayern Munich on the first day of this season. Even when they're not at their best, Favre's side are a very tough one to beat.
The brilliance of Reus and ter Stegen, combined with the work rate of Mike Hanke up top and the organization of the rest of the team mean that Gladbach, at present, can defeat any team at any time. Dortmund will probably look much better than their opponents to the naked eye tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that they're going to be in a position to win. And with Bender and Leitner unavailable, they might not even look better.
How Jurgen Klopp selects his front four and how those players play will be key. In the Revierderby, he played Robert Lewandowski behind Lucas Barrios with Mario Götze on the left and 'Kuba' Jakub Blaszczykowski on the right, while Shinji Kagawa and Kevin Grosskreutz came off the bench. Those two bench players seem likely to start this match, though Klopp could pick any four of those players and make his system work.
Dortmund have to be slight favorites, but Gladbach have earned the right to not be discounted. They will be neither naive, nor afraid of their opponents, and there's no reason to believe that the game won't be competitive for 90 minutes.
You can catch the game on GolTV, both in the USA and Canada.
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