Two of the most exciting teams in the Bundesliga face off on the opening weekend as Jude Bellingham’s Borussia Dortmund host Bayer Leverkusen and Patrik Schick on Saturday (kick-off: 6.30pm CEST).
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Aged just 19, Bellingham is entering his third season as a mainstay of this Dortmund side and is now third in the captaincy behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels. The midfielder was on the scoresheet when BVB kicked off their campaign with a 3-0 win over 1860 Munich in the DFB Cup first round. Karim Adeyemi also scored on his debut for Die Schwarzgelben, Donyell Malen opening the scoring. Both players will play a key role in these first months after Erling Haaland’s departure and Sebastien Haller’s cancer diagnosis. Young Youssoufa Moukoko is also in line for playing time up front. New centre-back duo Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle started the game in Munich, but the latter had to leave with muscle strain and will miss the opening matchdays. Veteran Hummels should fit right in. Another summer signing, Salih Özcan, is also pushing to feature after a foot problem as he looks to provide the extra midfield courage Borussia want if they want to improve on their second-place finish and push Bayern Munich all the way. time. way this season.
Leverkusen also have ambitions to finally lift the Meisterschale after numerous close calls. They came third last season in their first season under Gerardo Seoane, led by Schick’s 24 goals, plus Moussa Diaby’s 13 goals and 12 assists and Florian Wirtz’s 17 goal contributions. The latter missed the last part of the season with a cruciate ligament injury and won’t be ready to return for at least a few months, but it hasn’t stopped. Die Werkself after enjoying his best season in almost a decade with 64 points to also qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The club’s biggest signing this summer was Czech youngster Adam Hlozek, who added to an already prolific attack. He netted his first goal in Saturday’s DFB Cup clash at Elversberg but was unsuccessful as Bayer became one of the big casualties in the first round with a 4-3 loss. He is set to make his Bundesliga debut alongside compatriot Schick, Diaby and also Sardar Azmoun, after the January signing found his feet in the team at the end of last season.
Look: Goals guaranteed as Dortmund meet Leverkusen
- Bellingham has registered 11 goals and 18 assists in 91 appearances as a Dortmund player.
- Borussia had the best conversion rate in the league last season, scoring a goal for every 5.6 shots to set a new club record of 85 goals.
- BVB have won their opening game of the past seven seasons, six of them at home. They last dropped points on Matchday 1 in a 2-0 loss to Leverkusen when Karim Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history (nine seconds).
- Schick has been the most clinical Bundesliga player in 2021/22 with +5.1 shooting efficiency as he plundered 24 goals in 27 appearances – just a second in total behind Robert Lewandowski.
- Diaby was the only other player in the league, other than Player of the Season Christopher Nkunku, to record double figures in goals (13) and assists (12).
- Leverkusen also set a new club record with 80 goals last season, 41 of them on the road. They also topped the leaderboard Rückrunde table with one point more than Dortmund and two more than Bayern.
Dortmund: Kobel – Meunier, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro – Dahoud, Bellingham – Malen, Reus (c), Adeyemi – Moukoko
Out: Haller (testicular cancer), Passlack (hip), Rothe (hip), Süle (muscular)
Coach: Edin Terzic
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) – Frimpong, Kossounou, Tapsoba, Bakker – Aranguiz, Andrich – Diaby, Azmoun, Hlozek – Schick
Out: Wirtz (cruciate ligament)
Doubtful: Adli (fitness match)
Coach: Gerard Seoane