Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Borussia Dortmund
It was all set to be billed as a clash of bottom versus top.
Then defender Kaan Ayhan intervened with a double (his first goals of the campaign) against SC Freiburg and Fortuna Dusseldorf were out of the Bundesliga drop zone.
It was a much-needed morale boost for Friedhelm Funkel’s men.
They have already provided one of the Bundesliga 2018 news stories so far when they fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Bayern last month, inspired by a Dodi Lukebakio hat-trick.
Now, can they raise their game again to trouble the best as they prepare to welcome the league leaders?
Dortmund have won their last six league matches and remain the only unbeaten team in Germany’s top flight this season. Can they continue their dominance?
There hasn’t been this much excitement at the Signal Iduna Park since the latter days of the Jürgen Klopp reign when skipper Marco Reus was joined up front by Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
They have become the team to beat – ever since what could prove to be a key win over the reigning champions last month.
They had sent out warning signs earlier with a convincing victory over Europa League holders Atletico Madrid and are safely ready for tomorrow’s Last 16 draw.
Paco Alcacer looks delighted after scoring a goal during Borussia Dortmund vs Werder Bremen match in Bundesliga
The ‘fantastic five’ as they have become known – Reus, Paco Alcacer (11 goals in his last 10 league games), Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen – are playing key roles with the former two scoring in the weekend’s victory over Werder Bremen which maintained their nine-point lead at the summit.
Reus has now scored more goals against Bremen than any other team (12).
However, my focus is on the engine room in the Dortmund midfield.
Belgian Axel Witsel and Danish international Thomas Delaney may not have shared much of the limelight as Lucien Favre’s team have climbed to the summit, but they are the unsung heroes to me and many other observers.
Indeed, BVB have won 10 and drawn two of the 12 matches in which the duo have started.
With the supporting cast also including 2014 World Cup matchwinner Mario Gotze, there is hope that they have a chance of ending Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance if Dortmund can stay injury-free – Bayern are chasing a sixth straight title.
Dortmund are the only side still unbeaten in the league in 2018/19. Only seven clubs in the history of the Bundesliga have previously managed to avoid defeat in the first 15 matches of a season, and their victory over Bremen on Saturday ensured they became what is known as ‘Herbstmeister’, or autumn champions.
Although only an unofficial title, 38 of the last 55 Herbstmeisters have gone onto becoming German champions.
Alcacer’s goal in that victory lifted him above Robert Lewandowski – one of a number of key players Dortmund have sold to Bayern in recent years – in the Bundesliga goalscoring chart.
The Spaniard is also the first player in Germany’s top flight to score 11 goals in his first 378 minutes as a Bundesliga player.
A word of warning about Fortuna to finish, though.
Victory over Freiburg was only their third success of the league so far, but all three have come at home.
All the pressure will be on the visitors.
Although they have met in friendlies over the last few seasons, their last competitive meeting was in April 2013 when Dortmund won 2-1 at the Merkur Spiel-Arena, just a month before they were narrowly defeated by Bayern Munch in the Champions League Final.
That was helped by a man of the match performance from Nuri Sahin who scored the opening goal and then set up substitute Jakub Blaszczykowski for the winner.
Adam Bodzek nodded in a late consolation.
The meeting earlier in the season at Dortmund ended 1-1 as Stefan Reisinger cancelled out Blaszczykowski’s opener to earn Fortuna a point, although they were ultimately relegated.
||Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Borussia Dortmund
||First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.03
|December 19, 03:30 (GMT+8)
You won’t be surprised to hear the league leaders are clear favourites with the us set of Bundesliga 2018 betting odds.
Asian Handicap odds on Dortmund -1.25 are offered @ 2.07 with Fortuna +1.25 @ 1.83.
1X2 odds have the hosts well adrift @ 5.40 with Dortmund 1X2 available @ 1.47. The draw is priced @ 4.30.
Over 3.25 goals @ 2.11 suggests no one is expecting a clean sheet.
Fortuna have often raised their game for clashes with Dortmund but I think the hosts will start strongly.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:
| = €20 (Highly confident)
|| = €10 (CONFIDENT)
|| = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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