Well that was fun yesterday, wasn’t it? Borussia Dortmund smacked FC
Gelsenkirken Schalke 04 3-0 in the 157th Revierderby, especially in the second half. Had Dortmund been better in the final third and with their finishing, it would’ve been an even more lopsided result.
Still, even in victory there are questions that need to be asked. Lets get to it...
Schalke are actually going to get relegated, aren’t they?
Folks, Schalke are bad. I mean really bad. Aside from a set-piece early in the first half and a few counters, they didn’t really threaten the defense and were held to three total shots. And none of those shots were on frame. They were badly outpossessed (74% - 26% for Dortmund), they did very little of threat when in possession, and Dortmund were clearly the better team in the final third (Schalke had a .24 xG compared to Dortmund’s 1.48, according to Understat).
I don’t think a single player from their match-day squad would have made the bench for Dortmund; that’s how bad it has gotten in Gelsenkirchen.
This was their 21st consecutive Bundesliga match, dating back to January 25th 2020, without a win. 14 losses, 7 draws, - 45 goal differential. Were it not for an even worse Mainz, they would be bottom of the table with only one point. They have gone through three managers in the last three seasons since Domenico Tedesco managed the team to a 2nd place finish in 2017/18.
Not only have they been poor on the pitch, but they have been poor off it too. Financial mismanagement has devastated this club, and their best players from the last season have all left for virtually nothing; top players like Guido Bergstaller, Daniel Caligiuri and Alexander Nübel all departed as free transfers. They have also instituted a wage cap for the foreseeable future, seemingly hurting themselves in the transfer market even further. A drop down to the 2. Bundesliga is a legitimate possibility.
Our dear leader Sean talked about the possibility of a relegated Schalke back in July and I agree with him that the Bundesliga would be worse off without historically competitive teams like Schalke. There is something special about watching the Revierderby, even if one of the teams competing looks like absolute ass. The emotion this match brings out in the players, coaches, and supporters is a sight to behold.
I really don’t want to see Schalke relegated, because the Bundesliga and Dortmund would be worse off without them in the same division. However, they are playing like they don’t belong in the top flight, and I think all their mistakes will catch them in the end.
Is the 4-2-3-1 the winning formation?
Yes, it was against lowly Schalke, but Lucien Favre’s switch to the 4-2-3-1 was a brilliant decision. After the disappointing defensive performance the team put on against Lazio, the switch was made to a four-man backfield along with personnel changes. Roman Bürki was back between the sticks as the starter, Manuel Akanji returned from his COVID quarantine, Mo Dahoud and Thomas Delaney were the central midfield pairing, and Julian Brandt started as the attacking midfielder.
It took them a while to find the back of the net, but BVB eventually put in three against S04 in an easy win. The team looked completely in control in every facet of the game yesterday, based on both the eye test and the underlying numbers. The central midfield, a weakness against Lazio, was dominant against Schalke with Delaney and Dahoud providing defensive cover and making terrific contributions in the attack.
The most surprising benefit of the formation shift was how well Thomas Meunier played. I was harsh on him following the Lazio match, but yesterday he made a complete 180 from his previous performance. He was defending well, getting forward on well-timed runs, and his passing was much better. Had Gio Reyna done better with his header, Meunier may have finished his day with an assist. We also got a fine performance out of Brandt, despite no goals or assists, and Akanji returned to the starting lineup alongside Mats Hummels to shut down Schalke’s attack while bagging the opening goal.
So does this mean we should switch from a three-man backline to four exclusivey? I don’t believe so. I think this club has the personnel to run both formations against different kinds of opponents, so what’s the point of restricting the team to a single formation?
Leave your own questions below. Let me know what questions you’ve got, or even a few answers to the ones above, following the Revierderby!