Dortmund turned in a very positive performance against a normally assured Freiburg away in the Schwarzwald. BVB neutered the opposition, putting a stamp on their dominance of Freiburg having won the last twelve against them in the Bundesliga. It marks a rare victory and an even rarer clean sheet for Dortmund away from home.
Virtually every aspect of the game went well, aside from poor finishing in the first. Dortmund’s offense and off the ball movement was incredibly sharp and creative, clearly building on last week’s romp against Wolfsburg, though Freiburg were more active opponents.
Dortmund’s finishing in the first half was poor, but they did not allow Freiburg back into the match.
My first perfect score for Thomas Tuchel. His lineup and formation forced the normally very tactically astute Christian Streich into a 22nd minute substitution to bring on a third center back. The back three with Durm and Raph as wing backs exploited the entirety of the pitch, opening up space for Castro and Weigl to operate in the center of the field. Unlike against Wolfsburg, this one was by design.in
Had one important save to make, but is was relatively simple. Was not challenged during this match.
Clearly Dortmund have a goal-scoring crisis as Łukasz did not see a sniff of the goal. Or, that is how some media outlets may spin it. Piszczek had a solid but not noteworthy performance.
Opened the scoring with a great finish off a well-rehearsed set piece. Defensively solid, but not tested very well. Did adequately during the buildup.
Good Bartra is back, aside from his David Luiz-like audacity to try to launch a shot from over forty yards out. Unlike Luiz however, he didn’t have a chance as it would have cleared the stadium’s roof were it not for the netting behind the goal. Marc performed very well and had fun trying to involve himself in the attack throughout. He looks good in a back three as it permits his forays into the attack more frequently.
Erik was everywhere this game. He had acres of space in the first half and did ok. Some of his distribution was sketchy but he grew into the match. Quite often, Durm does well in counterpressing until he wins the ball… and looks like he does not know what to do with it. However, his rehabilitation has been remarkable since the Hinrunde. His unselfish dish to Aubameyang for the third goal was clearly the WRONG decision to make were it a 0-0 match, but it was a GREAT decision to make in the context as it curb-stomped the monkey that Reus had pulled off Aubameyang’s back with his first assist. It was a great gesture of teamwork and clearly a boost for morale. Thankfully, Auba buried it.
Julian Weigl had a fun match. Gonzalo Castro’s improvement allowed him much more time and space then he is usually used to when paired with him. He and Castro played well together and showed some real chemistry.
Where has this Gonzalo Castro been? He showed some genuine confidence, panache, and chemistry with his midfield mates unlike any we have seen since his pals Mkhitaryan and Gündoğan fled to England over the summer. His passing was finally on point. His vision and movement enabled Dortmund to easily bypass a half-hearted press through the center of the midfield.
Raph is back baby. When I saw he was lining up on the wing, I kind of shuddered remembering his last dreadful performance as a full-back. Man was I wrong. He worked seamlessly with Bartra and Reus up the left and frequently cut inward to exploit the half-spaces as an inverted winger. Served the delicious assist to Sokratis on his set-piece goal.
Ousmane was unlucky to not be on the score sheet through either an assist or goal himself. An audacious overhead kick unluckily got blocked by his own teammates in the first half. Faded a bit in the second as his wise decision-making waned and he and his mates just started having fun with the ball.
As previously mentioned, he finally got the monkey off his back and it took two simple tap-ins to do it. Before that first goal, his body language and touch on the ball (or lack of it) screamed his lack of confidence. He missed at least two clear-cut, easy tap ins. But following the Reus assist on his first goal, the swagger returned and he put away Durm’s somewhat unexpected pass-off, finishing one of the more difficult chances he had on the day. Auba’s back must be feeling better having now finally recovered from carrying Gabon on his shoulders in the African Cup of Nations.
Man of the match performance. As captain, he led his team in all aspects of the game, marshalling a devastating counterpress that seemingly endlessly won the ball back from Freiburg’s defense. As offensive showman, he completely embarrassed Freiburg’s centerback Çağlar Söyüncü, nutmegging him twice on the night to include the sequence that led to Aubameyang’s first goal. He owned the left side of the pitch leaving Freiburg no choice but to double him and leave other passing options open.
Did not have much to do as the game was done and dusted by his entrance for Dembélé in the 76th minute. Missed a huge chance on a header from six yards out that just missed wide. That header would have done wonders for the declining Japanese maestro’s confidence.
Like Kagawa, came on far too late to make any impact.
Like Pulisic, except he flubbed a set piece, tamely passing it into the wall.