Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer Leverkusen: how do they compare?


Borussia Dortmund against Bayer Leverkusen has become one of the most entertaining Bundesliga match-ups in recent seasons. So what sort of drama can we expect from this weekend's crucial Matchday 1 meeting?

Both sides start the campaign without potentially decisive players. New signings Sebastien Haller and Niklas Süle are absent for the home team, while gifted Germany and Leverkusen attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz will miss the first couple of months of the season through injury.

So who could make the difference on Saturday evening? bundesliga.com assesses the key players and main talking points.

Watch: Leverkusen stunned Dortmund last time they met

Fresh faces

Dortmund have been much the busier of the two clubs in the transfer market, with five major signings among their summer arrivals. Ex-Ajax and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Haller will be out for the foreseeable future through illness, however, while former Bayern Munich defender Süle picked up a knock late in the season-opening DFB Cup win at 1860 Munich.

Erling Haaland and Steffen Tigges have also left for Manchester City and Cologne respectively, but Germany forward Karim Adeyemi has added to BVB's attacking options. Recently signed from Red Bull Salzburg, he scored on his debut in the 3-0 victory at third-tier 1860 last weekend.

Former Freiburg centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck also made his first competitive appearance for Dortmund in that game, while Salih Özcan - who joined from Cologne - has strengthened the midfield.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, have just one new recruit so far. Czech attacker Adam Hlozek has replaced Lucas Alario - who moved to Frankfurt - and the 20-year-old needed only five minutes to get his first goal for Die Werkself. Unfortunately for the former Sparta Prague favourite, it was in a losing cause. Leverkusen are already out of the cup after losing 4-3 at third-division SV Elversberg last Saturday.

Czech it out

Hlozek, of course, isn't the only Czech Republic international that Dortmund will need to watch out for. Patrik Schick was the second-highest goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season - behind only Robert Lewandowski - with 24 goals in 27 appearances.

He returned from injury to finish the 2021/22 campaign with four goals in his last three matches to make sure Leverkusen were third, and he started this one with a goal in the cup. Schick averaged a goal every 87 minutes last term, and he got four in one game against Greuther Fürth as well as one in his two matches against Dortmund.

No wonder Leverkusen were delighted when the 26-year-old penned an extended contract in May.

"Patrik has had a fantastic season and shown his world-class ability in his position," said Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes after Schick agreed to stay until 2027. "There are few centre forwards of his calibre on the European stage."

Watch: The best of Patrik Schick 

Dortmund's dynamo

While Schick will have livewires like Sardar Azmoun, Karim Bellarabi, Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby around to supply him - the latter got 13 league goals and 12 assists last season - Dortmund can look to Jude Bellingham for inspiration.

The 19-year-old is once again nominated for the Golden Boy prize - awarded to the best payer under the age of 21 in Europe's top five leagues - and he is already a leading figure at BVB.

Edin Terzic was a fan of the "outstanding" Bellingham during his first spell at the club, and last month the returning coach appointed him as the club's "third captain" behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels.

An all-action presence in central midfield, Bellingham got three goals and eight assists from 32 Bundesliga starts last season. The England international began his third campaign in Germany with a goal against 1860 in his 91st game for the club.

Watch: Bellingham - Dortmund's difference maker

Advantage Leverkusen on the opening day

Dortmund have won their first Bundesliga match in each of the last seven seasons - including six at home.

The last time they didn't was in 2014, when Leverkusen put three points on the board thanks to a 2-0 success in Dortmund. The visitors got off to a flying start in that game, with Bellarabi scoring after only 9.6 seconds. That nine-second mark for the fastest goal in Bundesliga history was matched by Kevin Volland a year later.

Overall the two clubs have met five times on the opening weekend, with Leverkusen coming out on top in four of those encounters.

The team led by Gerardo Seoane will visit Dortmund on Saturday with a recent successful expedition fresh in their mind. On 6 February - Matchday 21 of last season - the away side won 5-2 at the home of the 1997 European champions.

Goals guaranteed?

Dortmund edged a thriller 4-3 in Leverkusen in the other meeting of the sides last term, meaning there were 14 goals in the two matches between them in 2021/22.

Those games added more weight to the argument that this is a must-watch rivalry. In the past 11 meetings of the sides there have been 57 goals - an average of over five per game. Since the summer of 2015, meanwhile, no other pairing has matched the 63 goals they have shared between them.

There hasn't been a draw between them since December 2017, with six wins for Dortmund and three for Leverkusen. In games in Dortmund the two sides have not shared the points since January 2009, with nine Dortmund victories and four Leverkusen successes after that date.

Saturday's contest is likely to feature lots of attacking football. Last season only Bayern (97 goals) found the net more often than Dortmund (85) and Leverkusen (80). Both sides posted a new club record for Bundesliga goals in the process, so they're unlikely to change their approach this term.

Strap yourself in, then, for some high-octane entertainment.