Bundesliga table-toppers Borussia Dortmund will reportedly be without star centre-back Manuel Akanji for the remainder of the season, according to Bild. The Swiss defender requires groin surgery, a massive blow for the team. The player will see a specialist to determine the length of the injury. A big loss, we will take a look at how the injury impacts Dortmund.
Manuel Akanji Suffers Potential Season-Ending Injury
Filling the Void
Having the best season of his career so far, Akanji’s injury couldn’t come at a worse time. A pillar of the Dortmund defence, the Swiss centre-back has been superb. A strong, fast, ball-playing defender, Akanji has been pivotal to the team’s success so far this season. As Dortmund prepare for the second half of the season, Lucien Favre’s team will need to adapt. Losing a player like Akanji is unfortunate, but the team does have options moving forward.
Recently agreeing to sell American winger Christian Pulisic to Chelsea, the club do have the funds to replace Akanji. Known for being shrewd in the transfer market, Dortmund are sure to have a ready-made replacement in mind. However, with the winter window shutting at the end of the month, Dortmund are short on time. The money is certainly there, but the club must act fast, in what could be a decisive month for the team.
Another route the team can take is a simple one. Sticking with what you have is simple enough, but it does carry some risk. Losing Akanji leaves the team with three centre-backs. Abdou Diallo, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Ömer Toprak will be tasked with carrying the load for the remainder of the season. However, Favre’s lack of trust in Toprak could lead to the team lining up with an unorthodox back-four. So far this season, Favre has used both Łukasz Piszczek and Julian Weigl at right-centre-back. Comfortable playing certain players out of position, Favre could well do the same again moving forward.
Six points clear heading into the second half of the season, Akanji’s absence will have an impact. How Dortmund adjust will determine how the title race pans out. Reigning champions Bayern Munich have recovered after a poor start to the season, setting up what is sure to be an exciting second half of the season. Dealing with their own injury problems, Bayern will come out of the winter break healthier and hungrier than ever. As the momentum swings in Bayern’s favour, Dortmund will be hoping for business as usual. Coming through adversity when necessary, the one thing Dortmund have been lucky with until now is injuries. The Akanji injury is a new challenge for Favre’s team to overcome.
A title challenge which is sure to go down to the wire, both teams have different strengths. Dortmund and their youthful, deep squad are sure to push Bayern even without Akanji. Whereas Bayern and Niko Kovač, the challengers, will need their world class squad to stay healthy if they’re to make a serious title push. The Bundesliga season has plenty of twists and turns left, expect both of these teams to be at the forefront of the action along the way.