After a lot 'blah, blah, blah' from journalists and some fans, Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund put a four spot on their fellow Borussian's Borussia Mönchengladbach, winning 4-1. It wasn't a perfect performance, but it was a much needed response after the disappointing result against Eintracht Frankfurt.
With a full week of training thanks to no midweek game, Tuchel clearly used the extra time wisely. He made four changes to the line-up from last weekend, with Nuri Sahin the most notable name on the team sheet. The Turkish midfielder had seen little action this season, but with Julian Weigl struggling and an important match against Real Madrid ahead, it made sense to give Weigl a rest. Unfortunately, Sahin limped off around the 38th minute, replaced by Weigl. Similar to the game against Bayern, Dortmund played with a back three.
BVB XI: Weidenfeller - Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra - Piszczek, Castro, Sahin, Schmelzer - Dembele, Reus - Aubameyang.— Lars Pollmann (@LarsPollmann) December 3, 2016
No Weigl was kinda due.
Despite the rosy outcome, Dortmund's start to the game was less than ideal. Raffael opened the scoring for the visitors in the sixth minute, after a header cleared by Marc Bartra fell right to his feet. The Brazilian goalscorer was unmarked and was able to take a touch and slot home a tidy finish from outside of the box. Unlike last week, there was little that Roman Weidenfeller could have done to save it.
However, Dortmund delivered quite a response. It took 59 seconds from the time Gladbach scored for Dortmund to find the back of the net, and it came from one of many Dembele-Reus-Aubameyang combinations. Reus laid the ball nicely to Aubameyang, who took a speculative shot, but absolutely smashed it and beat Yan Sommer at his near post.
It only took eight more minutes for Dortmund to take the lead, as Lukasz Piszczek headed home after Bartra flicked on the corner right in front of the goal. Dortmund were playing at a fast pace that suited their formation very well. The back three, or five if you consider the wing backs, allowed Reus and Dembele to run freely. The wing backs, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek, did a great job opening space for the attackers throughout the game.
Dortmund leads the top five Euro leagues with 0.15 xG per shot this season.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) December 3, 2016
All 31 of their Bundesliga goals have come from inside the box. pic.twitter.com/2ljkZ0h65V
Gladbach struggled going forward in the first half, but found a bit more luck once the second started. Sokratis nearly scored an own goal while clearing an Oscar Wendt cross, and Gladbach were a bit unlucky not to have a penalty when a player was pulled back on the edge of the box in an off-the-ball incident. It felt Dortmund weren't going to win if they couldn't find a third goal, but the team woke up and took hold of the game.
After Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both failed to score on successive breakaways, Ousmane Dembele danced around Gladbach midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, and fired the ball past Sommer for a spectacular goal, making the game 3-1 and almost certainly out of Gladbach's reach. It was Reus' second assist of the day, and he picked up his third after an explosive run and a sweet back heel flick to set up Aubameyang perfectly. These three combined brilliantly throughout the game, as Dembele enjoyed his best game in a Dortmund shirt to date.
Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images
Christian Pulisic came on with around 15 minutes left, and was quick to make sure Ousmane Dembele did not overshadow him. The young American didn't get on the scoresheet, but was unlikely not to, as he made two brilliant runs that could have resulted in goals. Thomas Tuchel is spoiled for choice in attack, but Reus and Dembele seem to have that unteachable chemistry, as this game and the Legia match have shown.
Hopefully, Dortmund are able to build on this. The back three formation seems to be defensively more effective, and even opens up more space for our front three to work in. It would make sense for Tuchel to go with the same tactics against Real Madrid, who, like Bayern and Gladbach, boast a prolific attack, as we all know.