Preview: VfL Bochum vs. Borussia Dortmund

Preview: VfL Bochum vs. Borussia Dortmund

VfL Bochum host Borussia Dortmund on Friday evening in a match that could have huge implications at both ends of the Bundesliga table.

Bochum head into the encounter only one place above the relegation zone, while Dortmund replaced Bayern Munich at the summit last weekend.

After only collecting two points from their last four matches, Bochum are looking nervously over their shoulders heading into the last five games of the campaign as they look to avoid relegation for the second successive season.

Thomas Letsch has worked wonders to guide Die Unabsteigbaren outside of the relegation places since taking over from Thomas Reis last September, having arrived at the club with them on just one point from their opening seven games.

However, the former Vitesse Arnhem boss will be desperate for his players not to fall at one of the final hurdles across the coming weeks, with their previously perfect home form during the 54-year-old’s first five league games deserting them in more recent times, culminating in a 5-1 defeat at home to Wolfsburg last time out.

Indeed, Bochum have now lost five of their last six matches at Vonovia-Ruhrstadion, including a 2-1 defeat to their forthcoming opponents – and the league leaders – in the DFB-Pokal in early February.

Letsch’s side had been level in that cup tie until Marco Reus’s 70th-minute strike, suggesting that they can keep things tight once again on Friday as they look to do themselves and Bayern a massive favour by achieving a positive result.

Given that Schalke 04 trail Bochum by three points in the table, Dortmund may well have their fiercest rivals cheering them on against one of Schalke’s main relegation rivals, as Edin Terzic’s side move closer to a historic title triumph.

After conceding a last-gasp equaliser to Stuttgart in their previous match to miss out on leapfrogging Bayern at the top of the table – with the Bavarians simultaneously also dropping points against Hoffenheim – BVB could not afford to repeat that mistake when witnessing Thomas Tuchel’s side fall to a 3-1 defeat to Mainz 05 last Saturday afternoon.

Hosting Eintracht Frankfurt in the Saturday evening kickoff slot, Dortmund came out of the tracks hard and fast at the Westfalenstadion, with Jude Bellingham displaying leadership beyond his tender years to fire his side into the lead after only 19 minutes.

Donyell Malen appears to have found his stride at the best possible moment in the season, with the Netherlands forward bagging himself a brace either side of Mats Hummels’s strike to secure a comfortable 4-0 victory for the hosts, which sparked jubilant scenes across the city.

However, Terzic will be keen to keep his players’ feet on the ground, especially as they may never have a better opportunity of ending Bayern’s relentless streak of titles at the elite level of German football. Should they navigate their way beyond Bochum on Friday, they will have taken a huge step closer to achieving their ultimate goal considering that three of their final four matches will take place on their home patch.

VfL Bochum Bundesliga form:

Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga form:

Borussia Dortmund form (all competitions):

We say: VfL Bochum 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Bochum’s previously strong home record under Letsch has almost entirely evaporated across their recent run of games on home soil, and there is a sense of destiny surrounding Dortmund’s title charge.

While this looks set to be one of BVB’s most difficult remaining fixtures considering that their opponents are fighting against relegation, we expect Terzic’s side to get themselves over the line and make the first step towards ending Bayern’s 11-year dominance in the Bundesliga.

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