74 min: Another corner that’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. Mbabu attempts to counter down the right, and is unceremoniously upended by Hazard, who earns a booking for his sauce.
73 min: But before that can be taken, there’s a VAR check for a penalty, Hakimi’s cross having flicked off the hand of Brooks. But the defender was withdrawing his arm, and was pretty close to his opponent anyway. No deal.
72 min: The corner isn’t worthy of comment. But Dortmund come back again, through Hakimi down the right. His low whip is forced out of play by Pongracic for another corner.
71 min: But a second Dortmund goal would put a stop to their gallop, and it nearly comes when Haaland busies himself down the inside right and slips a pass infield for Sancho, who tries to curl one into the top right. It’s not a good effort, but it deflects to Guerreiro, who fizzes a low diagonal shot left to right. The ball flies inches wide of the post, deflected out for a corner.
70 min: Wolfsburg do indeed load the box, though they may as well not have bothered, because Brekalo’s delivery is woeful, over everyone’s head. The hosts will be happy enough with the way they’re pushing Dortmund back, though.
69 min: Mbabu ventures down the right and wins a free kick off Hazard. A chance to load the box.
67 min: Weghorst slips a pass wide left to Mehmedi, who reaches the byline and pulls back well. But everyone’s made their run too early, and Dortmund are able to clear.
65 min: Then Dortmund make their second change of the day, replacing Brandt with Sancho. The English star is immediately in the thick of it, skittering down the right and getting clattered by Brooks, who goes into the book.
64 min: A double change for the hosts, as Klaus replaces the injured Russillon at left back, while Ginczek makes way for Brekalo up front.
62 min: Wolfsburg have rediscovered that momentum, it’s fair to say. Now Steffen pearls a volley from the left of the D, forcing Burki to parry-punch clear.
61 min: Weghorst storms down the left and plays a sensational ball across the face of the Dortmund goal. Akanji slips, and surely either Arnold or Ginczek will slam home. But neither man has made the right run, and the ball squirts between them and away. Dortmund got away with one there.
60 min: Wolfsburg have lost much of their early post-break momentum. Hazard jinks down the left but is cynically checked, then clipped, by Ginczek, who doesn’t bother complaining about the yellow card he then receives.
58 min: Dortmund nearly hit Wolfsburg on the break. Haaland powers through the middle and slips a pass right to Hazard, who feeds Hakimi on the wing. Haaland has continues his run and prepares to power a header goalwards, but his dreams fade as Hakimi’s cross sails miles over his head.
57 min: Arnold eventually gets up and takes it himself. It wasn’t worth the long wait. He batters witlessly straight into the wall. Very poor.
55 min: Arnold probes this way and that from a deep position. While conducting, he has his leg whipped from under him by Delaney. A huge yelp and a yellow card for the Dortmund midfielder, who isn’t particularly happy about it. But it was clumsy. And it’s a free kick in a central position, 25 yards from goal.
53 min: Dortmund string a few passes together for the first time in a while. They go nowhere in particular, but this is better after their cold start to this half.
51 min: Hazard drops a shoulder and tries to nip past Mbabu down the left. But Mbabu isn’t having it. There’s more spark to Wolfsburg since the restart. Dortmund’s play has become a little scruffy as a result.
49 min: Now Ginczek fires a dropping ball over the bar from a tight angle on the right. Dortmund are all over the place at the back suddenly, while Wolfsburg have clearly been on the receiving end of some passionate half-time advice from their manager.
48 min: Can hasn’t got his bearings yet, and so there’s a huge gap in the middle of the Dortmund defence when Weghorst guides a ball in from the left towards Steffen. He’s free! He draws Burki, but sends a hysterical effort miles high and wide right. He should have scored. He had to score.
47 min: Russillon clips Hakimi’s ankle, sending the wing-back’s boot flying off. He rolls and yelps, but there’s nowt wrong with him and he’s up again soon enough. Sounded dramatic, though.
The teams come back out, to flashing lights and hard rock, and the hosts get the second half underway. One change: the adaptable Emre Can has replaced Mats Hummels in the centre of the Dortmund defence.
Half-time analysis. “Wolfsburg have lacked any drive up front so far.” Justin Kavanagh’s here all week, ladies and gents. Try the sausage.
HALF TIME: Wolfsburg 0-1 Borussia Dortmund
Brandt nearly one-twos himself clear down the inside left, exchanging passes with Haaland. But not quite. And that’s that for the first half. Dortmund haven’t done much in attack other than the one move that led to the goal. And that’s more than enough against toothless Wolfsburg, who have offered nothing in attack at all. As things stand, Dortmund will move to within a point of leaders Bayern, who play later this afternoon.
45 min: There will be two minutes tacked onto the end of this first half.
43 min: A sweet Dortmund move as Brandt slides a pass down the right for the ever-excellent Hakimi, who fires a low ball across the face of the Wolfsburg box. Hazard rushes in to meet it, but his attempted sidefoot towards the bottom left sails well wide. That would have been a picture-book goal.
42 min: Steffen looks long for Weghorst down the left. Too long. Burki claims with a yawn. Weghorst looks extremely frustrated.
41 min: Casteels batters long. Weghorst is caught offside, an inch beyond the halfway line. It’s fair to say Dortmund pushed up high.
39 min: Arnold’s delivery is dismal, though nobody in green makes a positive run anyway. Burki plucks the ball from the sky.
38 min: Wolfsburg swarm around Brandt and Weghorst makes off with the ball down the right. He’s bowled over by Dahoud. Free kick, and a chance to load the Borussia box.
36 min: Roussillon felt that. He stays down for some time, before hobbling off for running repairs. He eventually returns.
34 min: That move started with a lovely bit of skill out on the right touchline by Brandt, a dragback and flick that created the space. And the Dortmund tails are suddenly up. Haaland barges down the inside-right channel with Wolfsburg looking light at the back. Roussillon bravely nicks the ball off his toe and gets a whack on the ankle for his trouble.
GOAL! Wolfsburg 0-1 Borussia Dortmund (Guerreiro 32)
So having said that, a huge gap opens up down the inside-right channel. Hakimi and Hazard romp into it, the latter reaching the byline and fizzing a ball through the six-yard box. Haaland takes a swipe and a miss, but no matter because the in-form Guerreiro is behind him and slams a sitter home.
31 min: Dortmund ping it around in pretty triangles. But no space emerges in the final third.
29 min: Dortmund need to step it up a little bit if they’re to keep the pressure on Bayern, and make next week’s Klassiker meaningful. Plenty of time yet, of course.
27 min: Hakimi nearly sends Hazard away down the right by cutely prodding a high ball forward with his chest. But Brooks was here, stepping in to clear.
25 min: Mehmedi swings one in from the left, finding Weghorst at the far post. Wolfburg’s leading scorer flashes a header wide right, probably as good as he could do with a cross that was a little bit too high.
24 min: Arnold and Hummels almost go nose to nose, eschewing best medical practice, after clattering into each other in the midfield. Tempers quickly cool, possibly as a result of a mocking pantomime “oooooh!” from a sing-song satirist on one of the benches. You can’t seriously continue with the macho posturing after that.
22 min: Dortmund continue to hog the ball, but do very little with it. A hopeful lump down the middle by Guerreiro doesn’t find Haaland and is easily cleared by Casteels, rushing from his box.
20 min: It’s not been great, not been awful. Neither keeper has had much to do.
18 min: Mbabu set up Wolfsburg’s winner last weekend, and the right wing-back is looking dangerous again today. Once more he makes something out of very little down the right to bust into space. This time his cross isn’t quite so good, and Hummels can see it through the box, but Dortmund need to keep an eye on this chap.
16 min: Hakimi bustles elegantly down the right. For a second, it looks as though he’s going to make it to the box, but Roussillon isn’t having it, and shoulders him off the ball with authority. But Hakimi’s soon coming back down the flank again, and slips a pass inside for Hazard, who drops a shoulder and tries a curler towards the top left. It’s high and wide. A shame for Dortmund, because it wasn’t clear that Casteels was getting to anything that was on target.
15 min: Dortmund are beginning to impose themselves. They’ve enjoyed 71 percent of possession so far.
13 min: A lovely backflick from Guerreiro nearly releases Hazard down the middle. Not quite, but very pretty. Dortmund are clearly high on confidence.
12 min: For those new to the Bundesliga, here’s some history in an extremely small pot. Wolfsburg were formed in 1945 and reached the top flight for the first time in 1997; they’ve stayed there ever since. In 2007-08, under Felix Magath, they won their only Bundesliga title with a team built around strikers Grafite and Eden Dzeko, and playmaker Zvjezdan Misimovic: the magic triangle. Dortmund by contrast have eight German championships to their name, and you may have heard of erstwhile boss Jurgen Klopp.
10 min: Guerreiro was superb last weekend, and he looks to be in the mood again today, gliding down the left and slipping a pass inside for Haaland, who can’t quite sort his feet out. Both teams are beginning to put a few moves together now.
8 min: Mbabu skips down the right touchline, a fantastic run along the tightrope. So little space to work with, but he still manages to whip in a cross that Weghorst nearly gets to. Hummels does exceptionally well to get a head on it first and guide the ball back to his keeper.
6 min: Hazard and Hakimi nearly pull off a combination down the right, but the sheer persistence of Roussillon puts a stop to their scheming.
4 min: It’s fast. Perhaps too fast. There’s no real pattern to the game yet, and both teams are struggling to retain possession.
2 min: A lively start by Dortmund, with Hakimi and Brandt both thinking about shooting from distance. There’s neither time nor room. Then the hosts go up the other end, Arnold scuttling into space down the left. He’s got Ginczek and Weghorst in the middle, but his cross is poor and easy meat for Burki.
And we’re off! Dortmund, looking to make it five on the bounce at the Volkswagen Arena, get the ball rolling and knock it around the back awhile.
The teams are out. Wolfsburg in dark green with neon-green X, Dortmund in yellow, everyone observing a minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of those who have lost their lives to Covid-19. We’ll be off once respects are paid.
Pre-match patter. “Everyone seemed to be on their best behaviour in last week’s games,” begins Woolie Madden. “I’m eagerly awaiting the first instance of handbags – will players be getting all up in each other’s grilles from a safe distance? Screaming into the ref’s face from 1.5m away? Like a smoker in prison, perhaps it would be a good opportunity to kick these bad habits for good.” The grown-up part of me agrees with you completely. The other nine-tenths would miss all the nonsense, though. I mean, we don’t like to see it … but we do. Bench-emptying donnybrook, please!
Meanwhile here’s Ian Copestake: “I cannot begin to hide my disappointment that Puddy’s jacket did not point to Yes by revealing a Roger Dean logo.” Prog rock from the 70s, sitcoms from the 90s … this is why the internet kids keep flocking to Guardian Sport.
There’s already been some top Bundesliga action in this round of fixtures. Hertha were the heroes of Berlin last night, routing cross-city rivals Union at the Olympiastadion. You can relive that one mit Rob Smyth’s MBM.
Wolfsburg make three changes to the XI named last week at Augsburg. Paulo Otavio, Victor Sa and Josip Brekalo make way for left-back Jerome Roussillon and the attacking partnership of Daniel Ginczek and Wout Weghorst.
There’s still no starting berth for Jadon Sancho in the Borussia Dortmund XI. Die Schwarzgelben name the same team that slapped four past Schalke this time last week. Emre Can returns, but only alongside Sancho on the bench.
Wolfsburg: Casteels, Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks, Roussillon, Schlager, Arnold, Steffen, Mehmedi, Ginczek, Weghorst.
Subs: Pervan, Brekalo, Klaus, Horn, Marmoush, Knoche, Tisserand, Victor, Justvan.
Borussia Dortmund: Burki, Akanji, Hummels, Piszczek, Hakimi, Guerreiro, Delaney, Dahoud, Brandt, Hazard, Haaland.
Subs: Hitz, Reyna, Sancho, Can, Morey, Balerdi, Schmelzer, Gotse, Raschl.
Anticipation is already building ahead of Der Klassiker on Tuesday evening, for the showdown that could decide the outcome of this season’s Bundesliga. You feel the sap rising too, right? Only thing is, we might be getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. You’d expect leaders Bayern Munich to see off Eintracht Frankfurt at home later today, but second-placed Borussia Dortmund are no shoo-in at Wolfsburg … and while nothing’s ever certain, anything less than three points for BVB this afternoon would most likely leave them further behind Bayern than the four points they are already, and significantly reduce the jeopardy for the reigning champs midweek.
The good news for Dortmund: they’re coming off the back of a fine performance in the Revierderby last Saturday, Erling Haaland and Raphael Guerreiro the stars of a 4-0 shellacking of Schalke. They’ve won eight of their nine league matches this calendar year. They beat Wolfsburg 3-0 in the reverse fixture. And they’re currently on a four-game winning run at the Volkswagen Arena. Like the back of David Puddy’s jacket, all signs point to yes!
But the hosts aren’t without hope themselves. Wolfsburg are unbeaten in seven league games. They jumped up to sixth place last weekend after a dramatic 2-1 win at Augsburg. Their top scorer Wout Weghorst is back from suspension. And they’ve never lost five in a row at home to the same opposition, so we’ll all be sailing into uncharted waters if Dortmund do the business this afternoon.
Dortmund have some possible returns of their own. Jadon Sancho is expected to start, having come on late last weekend to shake the rust off his groin problem, while Emre Can is also fit again. The pair may well replace Mahmoud Dahoud and Thomas Delaney, but we’ll see. The teams will be through soon enough, so let’s get ready. It’s the second week of the Big Bundesliga Hipster Redeployment Programme! It’s second versus sixth! Ist Zustand!
Kick off: 3.30pm in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, 2.30pm UK time.