Dortmund's title hopes face tough test away at Union Berlin

Dortmund now trail Julian Nagelsmann's side by nine points, and the challengers' task is not going to get any easier this weekend in the capital.

Without prolific top goalscorer Erling Haaland due to injury, Dortmund was  thrashed 5-2 at home by free-scoring Bayer Leverkusen last weekend to fall yet further behind leader Bayern.   -  REUTERS

Borussia Dortmund's fading Bundesliga title hopes face another stern test this weekend when it takes on surprise package Union Berlin, as it bids to stop champion Bayern Munich running away with a 10th successive crown.

Without prolific top goalscorer Erling Haaland due to injury, Dortmund was  thrashed 5-2 at home by free-scoring Bayer Leverkusen last weekend to fall yet further behind leader Bayern.

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Dortmund now trail Julian Nagelsmann's side by nine points, and the challengers' task is not going to get any easier this weekend in the capital.

"We will analyse things and push on with our development," coach Marco Rose said after the Bayer defeat. "Setbacks are part of development, and we're working on this.

"We have to take the next steps together as a team. Consistency is the key word."

While Union also suffered defeat last weekend at Augsburg, it has defied all expectations this term to sit fourth in the standings - higher than it has ever finished in their short history.

Bayern's relentless form has not made things easy for Dortmund. The champion has won 10 of its last 11 in all competitions, including a 3-2 victory over RB Leipzig last weekend.

But that win came at a cost as goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer suffered an injury requiring knee surgery, and he has been ruled out for at least four weeks.

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Bayern travels to VFL Bochum on Saturday to face a team it thrashed 7-0 earlier in the campaign, where Polish striker Robert Lewandowski will be looking to add to his 24 strikes so far this term.

Dortmund did get one over on Bayern this week after Germany central defender Niklas Sule agreed to join Rose's side at the end of the season when his contract in Bavaria expires.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga this weekend, RB Leipzig can climb into the top four with victory over Cologne on Friday night, while third-placed Leverkusen will be out to pile further pressure on Dortmund when it hosts Stuttgart on Saturday.

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