Borussia Dortmund host Hamburg on Matchday 30 of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season on Sunday at Signal Iduna Park.
Coming off an emotional loss against Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League in midweek—their first defeat in 2016—the hosts now have to face their bogey team. The Black and Yellows have picked up only one point in the last four meetings with Hamburg, the only club to feature in every single Bundesliga season since its inception in 1963.
Dortmund are without a win in three matches for only the second time this campaign, while Sunday's visitors have won just three of their 12 matches since the turn of the year, losing four of their last six—including a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Darmstadt on the previous matchday.
Sitting 10th in the table with a six-point cushion to the relegation play-off spot, currently held by their archrivals Werder Bremen, Hamburg aren't safe just yet, but one more win should be enough.
Head coach Bruno Labbadia knows picking up that win in Dortmund will be difficult regardless of recent history in the fixture, saying in his press conference on Friday, per the club's official website, that the team "need incredible unity" to succeed at the Westfalenstadion. "Everything has to fit and click within the team."
If nothing else, the game should be a spectacle for neutrals, because it's always been good for goals. Per Dortmund's website, a record 345 goals have been scored in 97 meetings in the Bundesliga, including 36 goals in the last nine meetings.
Hamburg won the first matchup of the season in November 3-1, with BVB goalkeeper Roman Burki giving away an early penalty and team captain Mats Hummels scoring a bizarre own goal in the second half.
Date: Sunday, April 17
Time: 2:30 p.m. BST/9:30 a.m. ET/3:30 p.m. local time
Venue: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
TV Info: BT Sport Europe (UK only)/FS 1 (U.S. only)
Live Stream: BT Sport live streaming (UK only)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S. only)
|Augsburg: Win (3-1)||Hertha: Win (2-0)|
|Bremen: Win (3-2)||Leverkusen: Loss (1-0)|
|Liverpool: Draw (1-1)||Hoffenheim: Loss (3-1)|
|Schalke: Draw (2-2)||Hannover: Win (3-0)|
|Liverpool: Loss (4-3)||Darmstadt: Loss (2-1)|
Midfielder Aaron Hunt will miss the game with a knee injury. He joins Ivica Olic, Josip Drmic and Gideon Jung on the injury list. Skipper Johan Djourou is set to return to the starting XI after missing three games with an illness.
Up front, "Sven Schipplock and Pierre-Michel Lasogga are fighting hard to get the nod," as Labbadia put it. Artjoms Rudnevs could also start as the lone striker.
Predicted Starting XI: Adler; Diekmeier, Djourou, Spahic, Sakai; Ekdal, Holtby; Muller, Gregoritsch, Ilicevic; Schipplock.
With the DFB-Pokal now representing Dortmund's last realistic hope for silverware this season and the semi-final against Hertha BSC on the schedule in midweek, a number of changes are expected following Thursday's heartbreaking defeat at Anfield.
Roman Burki will return between the sticks, while players such as Sven Bender, Erik Durm, Nuri Sahin and Christian Pulisic, all of whom didn't play against Liverpool, could feature from the start.
As it stands, only Neven Subotic will miss the game with an injury.
Predicted Starting XI: Burki; Durm, Bender, Hummels, Schmelzer; Castro, Sahin, Kagawa; Pulisic, Aubameyang, Reus.
Players to Watch
Winger Marco Reus played his best game in weeks at Anfield, scoring a goal many believed would put the game to bed in the second half, after setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the second goal of the game.
Having sat on the bench for the entirety of the Revierderby against Schalke on the previous matchday, the 26-year-old is less likely to lose his spot in the starting XI due to rotation than, for example, Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the other side of Dortmund's fearsome attacking trio.
Reus has only won once in six tries against Hamburg with Dortmund and will be looking to improve on that stat on Sunday.
As for Hamburg, winger Nicolai Muller has been in good form recently. Scoring four and assisting another two goals in his last five games, the 28-year-old has easily developed into the most prolific attacker for Hamburg.
Muller is unbeaten against Dortmund since moving to Hamburg in 2014, assisting the only goal in last season's away win at the Westfalenstadion.
Can Dortmund Channel Europa League Frustration?
Head coach Thomas Tuchel said after Thursday's game, per the club's official website, that "the interesting thing will be to see how we deal with it as a unit, how much energy it costs us and whether we manage to put the disappointment behind us by next Wednesday in Berlin at the very latest."
The Bundesliga title race may be over after Dortmund dropped two points in the Revierderby on the previous matchday, but the game against Hamburg is still important: The Black and Yellows need to get back on track before the cup semi-final.
If they can channel their frustration into energy, Dortmund's fury could obliterate Hamburg. If they sulk, however, and don't get up for the game, expect the bogey team to come away with three points.
Can Dortmund Shore Up Their Defence?
Dortmund's collapse against Liverpool showed that the Black and Yellows aren't defending nearly well enough at the moment, as these numbers allude to:
Hamburg hardly bring a menacing attack to town, having scored 35 goals this season so far—Muller is their leading goalscorer with eight—but that hasn't stopped them against Dortmund in the past. The Black and Yellows haven't kept a clean sheet against Hamburg at home since 2010.
They'll need a concentrated effort over the full 90 minutes to get back on track, after individual mistakes and poor positioning from a number of players have cost them dearly in the last few games.
Odds (via Odds Shark)