Bundesliga: Title hopes for Dortmund go through neighboring Bochum

Borussia Dortmund travels 12 miles to local rival Bochum on Friday, knowing a win will take it one step closer to a first Bundesliga title in over a decade.

Dortmund sits one point clear of Bayern Munich atop the standings with five matches to play, three of which are at home in front of the Westfalenstadion's famous Yellow Wall.

But while Dortmund boasts the league's best home record this season -- with 12 wins, one draw and one loss in 14 matches -- it has not won away from home in all competitions since February, a run of three losses and two draws.

With Bayern, chasing an 11th straight title, hosting bottom club Hertha Berlin on Sunday, Dortmund would go four points clear, at least temporarily, with a win at Bochum.

Bayern will be hoping for a little help from its "friend," Bochum, which is one place and two points above the relegation playoff spot.

The two teams have a 50-year "fan friendship," an alliance common in German soccer between supporters of teams that identify with each other and often coordinate off the pitch. Born out of a violent clash between rival fans in 1973 later settled over a few beers, the two clubs often coordinate fan choreography and play the same music when goals are scored at home games.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic, born and raised in Dortmund, knows the nature of the derby and the strengths of the home team's "energetic fans."

"It's a difficult task to win at Bochum," Terzic said on Thursday, although his team can take inspiration from a narrow 2-1 German Cup victory at the same venue in February.

"We're glad that it's all about the sausage now," Terzic added, using a German idiom referencing the fact that things are getting serious.

Terzic insisted he "didn't want to talk about becoming German champions" yet.

Player to watch: Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund)

Long derided as a failed purchase, Borussia Dortmund forward Donyell Malen has begun to show his long-promised goal-scoring threat in the second half of the season, repaying his team for its patience.

Malen has scored in each of Dortmund's past five league games, with six goals and three assists.

Signed after scoring 27 goals for PSV Eindhoven in 2020-21, Malen struggled with injuries and confidence issues but has established himself as a crucial part of Dortmund's title bid.

"Today was the best performance we've seen from Donny in a BVB shirt," Terzic said after Malen scored twice in Dortmund's 4-0 crushing of Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday.

Friday Bochum vs. Borussia Dortmund
Saturday Union Berlin vs. Bayer Leverkusen, Cologne vs. Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Augsburg, Stuttgart vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach, RB Leipzig vs. Hoffenheim, Schalke vs. Werder Bremen
Sunday Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Mainz


© Agence France-Presse

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