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    Borussia Dortmund Will Need To Successfully Navigate Erling Haaland Absence To Have A Shot At Winning The Bundesliga

    Photo via: @erling.haaland/Instagram

    Borussia Dortmund have long been the only legitimate challengers Bayern Munich have had when it comes to the Bundesliga title these last few years. In fact, they’re the only team who aren’t Bayern to have won Germany’s top football honours since 2010.

    The Bavarians have dominated German football for the last eight seasons, lifting the league title at the end of every term since 2012, with two treble-winning campaigns to boast. BVB won two consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012 under Jurgen Klopp. The German tactician has since taken his talents to England and is now in charge of current Premier League champions Liverpool.

    Dortmund are third on the Bundesliga table after 10 games played, four points adrift of first-placed Bayern, who appear poised to raise the league title for a ninth straight season. Of course, it’s still early days and there are plenty of games with which they could be caught.

    As fate would have it, BVB’s main goal threat Erling Haaland has been ruled out for the remainder of the year after suffering a hamstring strain. The 20-year old Norwegian forward has scored 10 goals and assisted two others in eight league appearances for the Signal Iduna side so far this season but will miss at least six games across all competitions while he works his way back to full fitness. In the meantime, though, he’s shown off his incredible leg muscles in a social media post, leaving fans feeling pretty positive over his recovery.

    Haaland will definitely be missed and BVB’s upcoming opponents should be slightly more comfortable knowing he won’t be a goal threat for the next several weeks. However, coach Lucien Favre has a few more options at his disposal as there are other attackers who could step up in Haaland’s absence.

    The manager presented some insight when his team played to a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Favre’s tactics shouldn’t serve as a solid indicator just yet; he can continue to try different options in attack. December will be a pretty heavy month, with five games left to play. Following Saturday’s match, Dortmund will face VfB Stuttgart on December 12 and Heritage have them at -247 for a victory. Matches against Zenit, Werder Bremen, Union Berlin, and Eintracht Braunschweig are all set to be played before the end of the month.

    The period will be a very crucial one for BVB and could make or break their prospects as it pertains to the Bundesliga title. Letting Bayern widen the gap could prove irreparable in the long run and simply can’t be allowed to happen if Dortmund are to have a chance at usurping their longtime rivals.

    Marco Reus is the player most likely to slot in for the trigger happy Haaland long term, despite not playing on Saturday. Reus has had involvement in 18 goals in his 16 appearances while playing as part of an attacking pair and has scored in double figures consistently enough. The German playmaker played up front with Thorgan Hazard in the 1-1 draw against Lazio in the Champions League last Wednesday. Gio Reyna, who scored the team’s only goal against Frankfurt, was made to hover around in a supporting role around the point of attack as well and proved quite useful, bringing his side back level after they went down a goal.

    Photo via: Wikimedia Commons

    Favre could opt to go with Hazard as a centre forward. The Belgian is more comfortable operating from the wings and all of his goals and assists this season have come from there. His shot was the one to breach Lazio’s goal in midweek.

    The very highly-rated Jadon Sancho is also known for his prowess on the flank. The former Manchester City youngster has yet to be deployed as a lone striker but can more than hold his own as part of a front two. Sancho – who has reportedly told Dortmund he wants to move to Manchester United next summer – can turn on the afterburners to as devastating an effect as Haaland but is five inches shorter than both Haaland and Reus, which might be a factor.

    Julian Brandt offers a bit more flexibility as he has both the height and experience, having made six appearances in Haaland’s position – he was actually the one who started there against Frankfurt. However, he functions better when he has someone to play off of in attack. 

    Favre can also call upon German Under-20 Youssoufa Moukoko The teenager made his senior debut on the day after his 16th birthday, going on as a late substitute in a 5-2 win over Hertha BSC on November 21 to make Bundesliga history. Moukoko earned his chance on the back of a whopping 141 goals in just 88 appearances at youth level and played a further 45 minutes after coming on to replace Mahmoud Dahoud in midfield on the weekend.

    Favre can deploy any of the aforementioned in place of Haaland, either on their own or in pairs. The manager has enough options with which he could fashion a seamless run to January but he can’t afford to get much wrong following Saturday’sdropped points.

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