Die Schwarzgelben finally won a game. Most of us had forgotten what winning feels like. But it turns out it feels pretty damn good. You know that time you were 13 and asked that cute girl from your middle school if she wanted to dance and she, despite the fact that you looked like a goblin, said "yes"? It kind of feels like that. Only better.
But Hoffenheim is no Mainz. No, no, Hoffenheim is no Mainz. If Borussia Dortmund want to have any chance of winning tomorrow, they're going to have to play a lot better than they did against Mainz. A lot of people thought Jeremy Toljan played well last game, for example, but I still consider him a downright liability. I believe a good word to describe him as a defender would be "fragile." I think "soft" might also be applicable. Like a timid deer fawn. But who knows, his defensive woes could've been a product of the low confidence a lot of the players seemed to be feeling under Peter Bosz. Julian Weigl was a perfect example. Under Bosz he was having some of his least successful passing games ever. Against Mainz, under Stoger's bespectacled gaze, he completed 96%.
Julian Weigl (22) vs 1. FSV Mainz 05:— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) December 12, 2017
96% pass accuracy
71 passes attempted
68 passes completed
That's the most passes he's completed in a Bundesliga game all season. Bosz out, Weigl back. pic.twitter.com/p9aA59ggqt
Speaking of Peter Stoger, the jeans were an interesting touch against Mainz. I realize the Opel Arena sits in the middle of a bunch of soy fields, but maybe go trousers for Signal Iduna?
4 things that need to happen tomorrow if Dortmund want to win so they can move two points ahead of Hoffenheim in the table and Dortmund fans can have a winter break where they don’t want to drink glühwein until they go to the hospital:
1) Defend set pieces better
Last time I checked leaving guys completely wide open wasn't the best strategy for set-piece defending. I know Bosz might've been all about it, but hopefully Stoger knows better.
Oh, Julian Weigl, when are you going to start lifting weights? How much do you weigh? Fifty kilos? Forty? When Julian Weigl is playing well, when he's confident, he's a dream to watch. He’s like a gazelle prancing on the high savanna. His surging confidence must continue against Hoffenheim.
3) Watch the counterattack
How Dortmund played under Bosz (at least for the last two months): Pass the ball between the back four for 10-15 minutes, turn the ball over, get murdered on the counterattack. Peter Stoger must tell them this: I don't care if you lose the ball, but lose it attacking. Lose it in the Hoffenheim third. Don't lose it screwing around at the half line.
I don't know if other people aren't seeing this, but Yarmolenko has now had TWO complete one on one's with the keeper he's screwed up by having to get to the ball to his left foot. Can this problem be addressed? Can someone work with him on this in training? Maybe just like, for an entire training session, sit down with Yarmolenko and point at his right foot. Anytime he starts to speak, or ask what's going on, just point at his right foot. Do this till he gets the idea.
With Stoger at the helm, Dortmund look to extend their win-streak to two tomorrow for what feels like the first time since the days of the horse and buggy. But beating Julian Naglesmann's side will be no easy feat. They must take the above elements into account, the rising confidence must continue, and Peter Stoger must buy a pair of trousers.
Predicted score (Stoger wears jeans): Dortmund 1, Hoffenheim 2. Predicted score (Stoger wears trousers): Dortmund 3, Hoffenheim 1.
Other match facts:
-- Jeremy Toljan's first match against his former club.
-- Hoffenheim (along with Hannover) lead the league with yellow cards this season.
-- Christian Pulisic hasn't scored since September 20th (!).
-- Last time they played Dortmund beat Hoffenheim 2-1 after a dubious offside goal and handball from Marco Reus.
-- Also in the last match, Gonzalo Castro nutmegged someone. On purpose.