Marco Reus (l.) and Emil Forsberg (r.) will be looking to inspire their sides when Borussia Dortmund host RB Leipzig in their first Bundesliga match of 2018/19 on Sunday. - © © imago
Marco Reus (l.) and Emil Forsberg (r.) will be looking to inspire their sides when Borussia Dortmund host RB Leipzig in their first Bundesliga match of 2018/19 on Sunday. - © © imago

Marco Reus vs. Emil Forsberg, Maximilian Philipp vs. Timo Werner: The key battles as Borussia Dortmund host RB Leipzig


The Matchday 1 action has arguably seen the best saved for last when Borussia Dortmund welcome RB Leipzig to the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday evening.

Each side boasts formidable individual talent, but where will the difference be made? takes a look at the key protagonists to assess where Sunday’s blockbuster match will be lost and won.

The strikers: Maximilian Philipp vs. Timo Werner

In comparing two of Germany’s brightest attacking talents, there is little to choose between them, though it appears the visitors will have the edge. Philipp overcame a serious injury at the start of 2017/18 to make 20 Bundesliga appearances last term and score nine times, providing one assist. Werner, while not as productive as in his first top-flight season for Leipzig, when he netted 21 times, scored 13 goals last time out but also provided a further seven assists, and in 63 Bundesliga matches for the Saxons he has netted 34 times.

Philipp’s figures above are similarly impressive, and with a full uninterrupted pre-season behind him, there is much he can achieve this term. Yet while the two are different players and will leverage their different talents to their team's advantage, Werner's incredible pace and razor-sharp finishing, especially with Leipzig so dangerous on the counter-attack, could hold the key.

Watch: Dortmund vs. Leipzig: expect fireworks

The string-pullers: Marco Reus vs. Emil Forsberg

If these two played in the same team, you’d certainly have a selection headache. As it is, they’ll both be competing to influence the match from their favoured attacking left-midfield position, and whoever succeeds will likely play a large part in the destination of the points.

Reus also missed a large chunk of last season with injury, but still made 11 appearances and scored seven times to help Dortmund reach the UEFA Champions League spots. The Germany international possesses a special ability to find form quickly after injury and has been his side’s talisman for a number of seasons now. Like Werner, his pre-season was interrupted by his involvement for Germany at the FIFA World Cup, but Reus, now the club captain, is fit and raring to go, and if his Matchday 1 record is anything to go by – two goals and three assists – Leipzig will have a hard time keeping him out.

Forsberg, rather like Werner, struggled to reproduce the form last season that he showed in 2016/17, managing just two goals and two assists, but he remains his side’s key creative player and enjoyed a promising World Cup for Sweden. Outshining Reus on the Dortmund man’s own patch will take a huge effort, however.

Watch: Marco Reus, Dortmund's new leader

The defensive rocks: Abdou Diallo and Manuel Akanji vs. Dayot Upamecano and Willy Orban

Despite an average age of a little over 22, all four defenders boast highly impressive top-level experience and it speaks to German football’s willingness to blood young talent that they will all be on show in a match of such high stakes on Sunday. In terms of which pairing will come out on top, it is an extremely hard battle to call.

Werner’s speed may be his biggest asset but both Diallo and Akanji are quick, robust and athletic defenders, while the same is true for Upamecano, and Orban is a natural defensive leader, highly intelligent and had the best ratio of challenges won last season (64.2%) of all four players. If all four play to their potential, there could be very little on offer for the strikers on Sunday, and so it may come down to their chemistry. That is where the Leipzig duo could have the advantage having played together for a season, while Diallo only joined Borussia in the summer.

- © gettyimages

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