Dortmund's collapse set to continue in Sevilla
Wednesday evening sees the first half of the Champions League opening legs conclude, with hosts Sevilla in red hot form. The Spanish side have won their last nine matches in a row in all competitions, a sequence which has included advancing with a clean sheet against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey. They face Borussia Dortmund, who by contrast, have fallen way off the pace in the Bundesliga. The German giants have just announced that Gladbach manager Marco Rose will take over at the end of the season, which helps to create the impression that they are marking time until then in hopes of a return to prominence. However, they now have nothing to lose by going for it against Julen Lopetegui's men. Read our preview here:
Since being beaten by La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid in early January, Los Nervionenses have conceded just once, and far from simply tightening their defence against some of the best teams the Iberian nation has to offer at present, they have also remained potent at the other end; their run is peppered by aesthetically pleasing football, matched by plenty of 2-0 and 3-0 victories that are backed by a strong Moroccan contingent. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou is assertive in his own area, shutting down one-on-one opportunities and keeping up his concentration to remain alert for any opportunistic efforts from long range. Super sub Munir, very recently granted clearance by FIFA to represent The Atlas Lions despite being capped once by Spain in 2014, has chipped in with goals from his cameos, and he can be deployed across the front three by his coach to equal effect. Most prominent of all is striker Youssef En-Nesyri, who will be a huge headache for a suspect Dortmund back four. The tall 23 year old is lethal on the end of crosses, and has the pace and dribbling ability to get beyond his marker to finish chances. He has 17 goals for his club in 2020/2021, despite only starting the same number of matches.
Not one on the Hitz parade
Even the best collective efforts of a front four that would be the envy of almost every elite team in Europe have not been sufficient to dig out BVB from some very poor results, particularly this calendar year. Shorn of three of their more experienced defenders for vast swathes of the campaign, they will also have to make do without custodian Roman Bürki. However, his own decline has been precipitous, and fellow Swiss shot-stopper Marwin Hitz has hardly covered himself in glory whilst deputising for him, either. One of Marco Rose's first jobs when he takes over will be to help identify a long-term replacement to help shore up a creaky backline. That doesn't help interim boss Edin Terzić in the meantime though, and he must find a solution of his own to plug the gaps. In midfield, Thomas Delaney keeps picking up yellows, trying to do the work of two to prevent his side being cut open all too frequently. Fellow double pivot Axel Witsel has never been an astute tackler, and most of his best work links the pair with the sharp end of the pitch.
Any XI containing the quartet of Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Thorgan Hazard, and Marco Reus will always be in with a shout. Their skills speak for themselves, but not a single one of them can really be considered particularly helpful in defending from the front. That puts a lot of pressure on their compatriots to be solid first and foremost, and that's simply something they're failing to do. More often than not, better organisation trumps greater individual quality, and that is by no means disrespecting who Sevilla have in their lineup. With bet365, they are still priced at 2.30 to win the first leg.