bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig: How do they stack up?

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The two best teams so far in 2022 go head-to-head on Matchday 28 as the Bundesliga roars back in style after the international break with Borussia Dortmund hosting RB Leipzig.

BVB still have a chance of catching leaders Bayern Munich, so will be going all-out for the points, while Die Roten Bullen are hoping to fend off competition from Freiburg, Hoffenheim and Cologne to secure a top-four finish.

With so much on the line, then, bundesliga.com gauges how the teams compare heading into the weekend’s standout fixture.

Erling Haaland and Co. vs. Christopher Nkunku and Co.

Injuries have limited Haaland to just 17 Bundesliga appearances this season, yet the Norwegian remains third in the overall scoring chart with 16 goals. Twelve of those have come on home turf, meaning the Signal Iduna Park could well witness the next instalment of the Haaland show on Saturday, especially as the 21-year-old has gone three games without finding the net since returning from the groin strain that kept him sidelined, his longest dry patch since joining the club in January 2020.

Yet while Haaland is still very much the focal point of the attack, his lengthy absence could conversely have been a blessing in disguise: Marco Rose’s team were forced to adapt and figure out ways to score without him. They succeeded too: in 2022 only Leipzig have scored more (27) than Dortmund’s 26 league goals, while the two teams have earned more points (23) than anyone else - three more than both Bayern and third-place Bayer Leverkusen.

Watch: All of Haaland's Bundesliga goals this season

Dortmund boast one of the most formidable attacking midfields in Europe, and the return of captain Marco Reus from illness is timely, while Dortmund have also carried significantly greater menace since Gio Reyna made his own comeback from a long spell on the sidelines. But recently, the goals have come from an even more unlikely source: step aside Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Donyell Malen, Marius Wolf has elbowed his way into the team.

The 26-year-old is in fine form coming into this fixture, having registered three goals in the last five outings, and he has been in the starting line-up for the last three. It seems Leipzig will have to keep their eye on more than one powerful, blond, man-bunned Dortmund attacker now…

Leipzig bring with them considerable firepower of their own, of course. Nkunku has arguably been the standout player in the Bundesliga this term, registering 15 goals and nine assists in 27 outings. The 24-year-old has been so unplayable that he was named as the league’s Player of the Month for February, and his performances have finally been rewarded with a first senior international call-up for France.

Watch: Nkunku voted Bundesliga’s February Player of the Month

Tending to operate in a central position just behind a lone striker, Nkunku is invariably involved in the majority of his side’s attacks. But like Dortmund, the threat can – and does – come from anywhere on the pitch.

Andre Silva is having a relatively quiet season by his standards in his maiden campaign at the club, but still has 10 goals and two assists, while Dani Olmo (two goals, five assists) is gradually getting back to his best after missing much of 2021/22 through injury.

That, combined with the presence of Emil Forsberg (five and two), has largely restricted the supremely gifted Dominik Szoboszlai (four and six) to appearances off the bench. All of which points to this fixture at the very least matching the 3.2 goals-per-game average since Leipzig’s promotion to the top flight in 2016.

Watch: Highlight's of Leipzig's 2-1 win in the reverse fixture earlier this season

Control of the midfield: Bellingham vs. Laimer

The headline-makers might invariably be in attack, but the difference-makers are often in the middle of the pitch. And it is here that Dortmund boast another of the jewels in their crown in Jude Bellingham. The England international is in the top 25 Bundesliga players this season for distance covered (161.7 miles / 260.3 km), in the top seven for sprints (724) and in the top four for challenges won (323).

If those statistics point to his hard-working, tenacious nature as a box-to-box midfielder, his three goals and seven assists underline that he has plenty of guile in the final third as well. Little wonder, then, that he has played more minutes than any other outfield player for Dortmund in 2021/22. And he’s still just 18…

Likely to play alongside the wise old head of Axel Witsel, Bellingham is set to go up against one of the most underrated players in the Bundesliga: Konrad Laimer. The Austrian faces stiff competition in central midfield from Tyler Adams and Kevin Kampl, but Laimer is the one trusted by Domenico Tedesco in the big matches: he started against Bayern on Matchday 21, for example, and in both legs of the UEFA Europa League play-off against Real Sociedad.

Watch: All of Bellingham's goals and assists

It's not hard to see why. Although not the same kind of all-action player as Bellingham, Laimer excels in all areas of the game. His sense of anticipation and ability to intercept as a defensive shield are a big reason why Leipzig have only conceded eight times this year.

Moreover, he is deceptively quick: Laimer is the third-fastest Leipzig player this season (behind Nkunku and Lukas Klostermann at 22.14 mph / 35.64 km/h), in the top 50 in the Bundesliga overall.

He's also handy going forward too, with two goals and as many assists. Whoever wins this particular battle is likely to end up on the winning team at full time.

Not-so-secret left-back weapons: Raphael Guerreiro vs. Angelino

It's one of life’s mysteries that a mazy run, clever turn or jaw-dropping goal all look that much better when executed by a left-footer – and both of these teams have two of the best lefties in the business.

Guerreiro is a left-back by name only. Although his positioning and defensive awareness are excellent, it is going forward that the Portugal international truly excels. Comfortable in possession, a brilliant passer and set-piece taker, the 28-year-old has four goals and two assists to his name so far.

Watch: From the archive - Guerreiro vs. Angelino wing-back analysis

Dortmund don’t have many natural out-and-out wingers in their first-team pool, so Guerreiro’s spatial awareness and ability to provide width from the left are a useful alternative to attacks through the middle.

The same is true of Angelino. The Spaniard had a quiet campaign by his standards in the first half of the season, but has enjoyed a renaissance since Tedesco took over in early December. The 25-year-old has two goals and five assists so far this term, and six of those seven goal involvements have arrived in the new coach’s 13 Bundesliga games to date.

Angelino has been in inspired form for Leipzig in recent weeks. - Boris Streubel/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Constantly scurrying down the left flank and executing a lung-busting 23 sprints per game, only two players (Filip Kostic and David Raum) have provided more crosses from open play than Angelino (103) this season. Who will prove decisive on the day? The good news is we don’t have long to wait to find out!