The two deadliest frontlines in the Bundesliga meet on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund travel to face Eintracht Frankfurt. It's another stern test of Dortmund's title credentials with Bayern Munich on their tail.
Only two teams have scored more than Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga this term, no prizes for guessing who they are. And while the names of Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus are no shock at numbers 2 and 3 in the top scorers chart, the presence of Luka Jovic at the top and Sebastian Haller in fifth speaks to the kind of football the Eagles have been producing.
That pair and Croatian Ante Rebic have scored a shade under 80 percent of Frankfurt's league goals this term while Haller is also flying high in the assists chart. The French striker's size, movement and presence of mind create space and chances for Rebic's direct running while Serbian international Jovic has emerged as one of the league's most deadly finishers. Both Rebic and Haller were on target last time out as Frankfurt drew 2-2 with Werder Bremen.
With their attacking trident so potent, the Eagles spent transfer deadline day stocking up on defensive assets, with deals struck for young Brazilian defender Tuta, former Monaco right back Almamy Toure and dependable Austrian center back Martin Hinteregger, who arrived on loan from Augsburg. With the Europa League still a going concern, Carlos Salceio having returned to Mexico and injury doubts hanging over David Abraham, coach Adi Hütter will surely be grateful to boost his numbers.
Another source of encouragement comes from Frankfurt's strong recent home record against Saturday's visitors. Dortmund haven't won at the Commerzbank Arena since 2013, and that victory is the only time Frankfurt have lost to BVB at home in their last eight meetings.
The Black and Yellows have made a habit of going one better than everyone else in the Bundesliga this term but even their own attacking trio of Reus, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alacacer can't top the three Eagles. Both attacking units have had a direct hand in 31 goals this term but BVB are less reliant on their leading men and have improved immeasurably as a defensive unit under Lucien Favre.
Achraf Hakimi's stunning goal grabbed a little bit of the spotlight for those further back as Dortmund brushed aside Hannover last time out. But it was the 1-0 win over RB Leipzig the week before that demonstrated the resilience, discipline and organization that Dortmund had lacked for some time before Favre's arrival.
The Dortmund coach acknowledged that Frankfurt's forwards are "extremely dangerous, can counter, can play" in his press conference on Thursday and so was particularly pleased by the potential return of center backs Ömer Toprak and Abdou Diallo, particularly with new signing Leonardo Balerdi out with a minor injury and Lukasz Pisczek also a doubt.
With such fearsome firepower it could well be that cutting off supply will prove critical. Expect a 0-0.
Elsewhere on Matchday 20
- Dortmund will be hoping their old coach can do them a favor when Bayern Munich visit Peter Bosz's Bayer Leverkusen side on Saturday. The Dutch coach got off the mark at his new club with a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg that featured goals from Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland. Leverkusen have the weapons to trouble Bayern, who are still without Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
- Schalke were active in the last few days of the transfer window, as expected of a side still languishing in the bottom half. Rapid young winger Rabbi Matondo arrived from Manchester City while Bruma added some Bundesliga experience to a backline missing the influence of Naldo. They host Borussia Mönchengladbach in Saturday's late game, with the Foals still secure in third and having won both their games in 2019 without conceding.
- The Bundesliga's bottom four are in danger of being cut adrift already. Nuremberg (18th), Hannover (17th), Stuttgart (16th) and Augsburg (15th) are between six and 10 points adrift of Fortuna Düsseldorf. All are at home this weekend and it's getting to the stage where three points are required.
Matchday 20 fixtures
- Hannover vs. RB Leipzig (Friday, 8:30 p.m. CET)
- Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
- Hertha Berlin vs. Wolfsburg
- Hoffenheim vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf
- Nuremberg vs. Werder Bremen
- Schalke vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Augsburg vs. Mainz (Sunday, 3:30 p.m.)
- Stuttgart vs. Freiburg (Sunday 6:00 p.m.)