Borussia Dortmund won today 3-2 in a riveting back and forth Battle of the Borussias. BVB started out the match in a 4-3-3 with Nuri Sahin playing as a lone holding midfielder and a front three of Reus, Dembélé, and Pulisic. With a center back pairing of Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender, I could understand if there was a feeling of pessimism.
Instead, Dortmund came out on the front foot, and found a goal within ten minutes. Gladbach Center back Andreas Christiansen slipped right in front of Christian Pulisic, who dribbled the ball towards goal. Midfielder and BVB secret agent Mahmoud Dahoud clipped him at the edge of the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. It looked to me like it was just outside the box, but the ref thought otherwise. Marco Reus stepped up and confidently dispatched the ball past Sommer.
Dortmund kept moving forward, and Gladbach almost surrendered more. A brilliant combination from Pulisic and Dembélé found the latter in one-on-one with Yann Sommer, who made a terrific save to keep the match close.
Going into the half, it looked like Dortmund would be up 1-0. Instead, Gladbach drew level when Mikel Merino, who came on for an injured Nuri Sahin, made an awful giveaway to André Hahn, who easily slipped a through ball to Lars Stindl, who slotted a goal past Bürki.
To start the second half, a botched play gave Gladbach the lead. A corner kick pinballed around insider the box, before Oscar Wendt whipped in a cross that Marcel Schmelzer deflected into the net. It was an unfortunate bounce for the Captain, but it put the foals up for the first time.
Luckily, Dortmund would respond. Having started Aubameyang on the bench, Thomas Tuchel called in the cavalry. Auba replaced Marco Reus in the 57th minute, and less than two minutes later, Aubameyang scored with a beautiful shot after going around keeper Yann Sommer.
For a while, it looked like the match would sputter out. Both keepers made impressive saves that kept it close, but then, in the 87th minute, Raphael Guerreiro flicked in a header off a free kick from Gonzalo Castro, and Dortmund took the lead for good. The match ended 3-2.
With this win, Borussia Dortmund have retaken third place from Hoffenheim. Now, they turn their sights to Münich. The DFB Cup Semi-final will be next Wednesday.
Other Notes/My random musings
- Mikel Merino, what a lazy pass. If he wants to start more, he CANNOT do that again. Ever. Like, EVER.
- Nuri Sahin looked very good when he was on the pitch. It’s too bad he got injured again.
- Emre Mor really should be loaned out. His skill is good, but when you compare his decision making to someone of roughly the same age like Christian Pulisic, the difference is night and day. He needs to get some legitimate minutes in order to gain this experience.
- Mahmoud Dahoud: I appreciate the penalty, I really do. And I understand that it was probably outside of the penalty box anyway. Still, though. I expect better next year! Other than the penalty, I thought he played fairly decently, given that Borussia Park booed him for most of the night.
- Man, Marco Reus is good. I feel like whenever he gets injured I forget just how World Class he is.
- The back line of Ginter and Bender was not nearly as disastrous as I had thought it would be. Sure, they had several bad turnovers but they generally passed fairly well. Given that passing is neither of their strong suits, I thought that was a positive for a change.
- We start Dembélé and Pulisic, and we win. Hmm...
- Mainz just drew Bayern 2-2 at the Allianz Arena. Bayern are still heavily favorites to win next wednesday’s matchup, but they aren’t exactly in stellar form.