Borussia Dortmund can take a significant step towards qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with victory over Newcastle United on Tuesday, and there are reasons for optimism.
Dortmund currently sit second in Group F behind Paris Saint-Germain, with four points from their three games so far, having beaten Newcastle in their first meeting two weeks ago.
1) Recent history on their side
There is no escaping the fact that Dortmund can draw confidence from their recent meeting with Newcastle. St James' Park isn't an easy place to go to, and BVB did well to come away with a 1-0 victory.
Felix Nmecha's goal on the stroke of half-time was just reward for Dortmund's dominant first half, and they defended it doggedly, seeing out the win despite Newcastle ending the game with 13 shots to their 12.
"With the first half we deserved to win and the second half we protected the win," said BVB head coach Edin Terzić after the game. "When we saw the draw we knew it was going to be a tough fight to the end. Everything is quite open and now it's down to us to continue like this."
2) Brandt and Reus are on fire
Watch: Brandt in red-hot form
Nmecha may have got Dortmund's goal in Newcastle, but back in Germany it has been Brandt and Reus who have been lighting up the Bundesliga.
The former has four goals and four assists this season plundered at a rate of one every 90 minutes he has played, and the latter was resurgent in September, scoring three times last month alone.
With Germany No.9 Niclas Füllkrug and Donyell Malen likely joining them in the final third, Newcastle will have their work cut out defensively. Those two haven't been as prolific yet this season, but they are physical handfuls with their power and pace.
The said same created the space for Nmecha to score the only goal of the game in the first meeting, and the visitors will be on high alert.
3) Home fortress
Watch: Inside Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park
If Newcastle's home is intimidating then Dortmund's is positively awe-inspiring. The 81,365-capacity Signal Iduna Park is full or close almost every week, and has been for years. The 25,000 strong Yellow Wall alone is bigger than five of the stadiums Newcastle will visit in the Premier League this season.
Die Schwarzgelben hadn't lost in front of their home support in more than a year before Saturday's Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich, their previous defeat there coming to Werder Bremen last October when the visitors scored three goals in the last few minutes to snatch a 3-2 win.
Bayern snapped a 28 game run, in which time the scalps of Revierderby rivals Schalke, fellow Bundesliga title hopefuls RB Leipzig and 2021 Champions League winners Chelsea have all been claimed. Newcastle have been warned.
Watch: Terzić seeks solutions after Klassiker loss
Losing 4-0 to their biggest top-flight rivals will still smart for BVB, but they needn't worry against Newcastle if recent history is anything to go by.
A cursory glance at some recent defeats at the Signal Iduna Park before the aforementioned run throws up some encouraging numbers for the Dortmund faithful.
Their last home loss to Bayern - 3-2 in December 2021 - was followed up by a 5-0 thrashing of Besiktas in that season's Champions League. When Rangers beat them 4-2 in the UEFA Europa League two months later, they duly thrashed Borussia Mönchengladbach 6-0. Last April's 4-1 home loss to Leipzig was followed up with a 6-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg.
Perhaps post-Klassiker isn't the best time to take on wounded animal with a track record of bouncing back?
5) Newcastle's laundry list of injuries
For all of Dortmund's strengths - and Newcastle undoubtedly have some of their own - the Toon are nonetheless significantly understrength for this meeting.
Dan Burn injured his back in the 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday, while Jacob Murphy will undergo shoulder surgery after risking his injury at the weekend.
Brandt and Co. also won't come up against first-choice centre-back Sven Botman, the Dutchman's knee injury seeing him replaced by Jamaal Lascelles, while at the other end, former Dortmund forward Alexander Isak has a groin injury.
Newcastle won't consider this fixture a timely one whatsoever.
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