Another day, another three points for Borussia Dortmund. BVB faced Club Brugge in the Champions League, and for the second straight time, blew past the Belgians with ease. There were plenty of positives to take away from today’s performance, from Jadon Sancho scoring a beautiful free kick to Erling Haaland adding two goals to his ever-growing collection. Here are three of my observations from today’s match:
Erling Haaland really does score when he wants
It’s getting to the point where it feels repetitive talking about how good Erling Haaland is, but I feel like I have no other choice. After scoring four goals over the weekend against Hertha Berlin, Haaland “only” scored twice today, and had numerous other chances. Haaland’s two goals were both very impressive. On his first goal, Club Brugge center back Odilon Kossounou tried to step into midfield to make a challenge, but deflected the ball to Sancho, to play the ball to Haaland, who immediately occupied the space left by Kossounou. I thought Mignolet and defender Simon Deli actually did a good job closing down the angles on Haaland, but the Norwegian nevertheless managed to squeeze the ball behind Mignolet at the near post.
Erling Haaland is the first player in #UCL history to reach 15 goals in 12 games. pic.twitter.com/idG8SmKMW5— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) November 24, 2020
If Haaland’s first goal was pretty slick, his second goal was pure filth. Although he was a bit fortunate because Ruud Vormer played the ball right to him while he was in an offside position, the awareness he demonstrated to immediately spin his body and smash the ball into the corner shows his elite striker sense. This coupled with a deadly left foot makes him one of the best finishers in the world.
Jadon Sancho finally breaks through
Jadon Sancho has received some criticism recently for his lack of production in the Bundesliga. He’s yet to score in the league, and doesn’t have a single goal from open play in all competitions. That didn’t matter today, as Sancho was all over the pitch doing the things that made him one of the best players in the Bundesliga last season. He was switching the play and dissecting Brugge’s defense with incisive passes and dribbles. He notched an assist on Erling Haaland’s first goal, but the real highlight of his night was this drop-dead gorgeous free kick:
Jadon Sancho, are you kidding me?! Now that's how you take a free-kick pic.twitter.com/66hu37SZtR— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) November 24, 2020
Lucien Favre’s reaction says it all. It’s hard to hit a dead ball more perfectly than that. The shot had just the right amount of pace and bend to curl over the players in the Club Brugge wall, past the outstretched glove of Simon Mignolet and into the side netting. It was a beautiful goal, and hopefully it boosts Sancho’s confidence moving forward. BVB have already been very strong with him underperforming. If he begins to recreate his form from last season, Borussia Dortmund will be a very hard team to beat.
Some Thoughts on Favre’s Rotation
Borussia Dortmund are now two matches into a month-long stretch where BVB will essentially play every 3-4 days across the Bundesliga, Champions League, and DFB-Pokal. During this grueling schedule, BVB will need to rotate as much as possible to keep the squad fresh and to avoid injuries. While the changes that Favre made were mostly correct, I still wish he’d made these decisions earlier. It took him until the 72nd minute to make his first substitution, which was to bring on Emre Can for Thomas Delaney. He brought on Mateu Morey for Thomas Meunier a minute later, and then waited until the 80th minute to make his three remaining substitutions.
After Erling Haaland made it 3-0 in the 60th minute, Favre’s main goal should have been to ensure the right players get subbed off for some rest. I would have taken off Guerreiro and Haaland between the 60th and 70th minutes, and instead of throwing in Emre Can for Thomas Delaney, I would have brought in Mahmoud Dahoud for Jude Bellingham. Other than that, I thought he rotated correctly.
One of BVB’s biggest strengths this year is depth. They can probably field two entire starting XIs that would rip apart most opponents. That depth could pay massive dividends in the months ahead if Favre chooses to utilize it properly. I hope he continues to rest key players at the right moments, and that he gives them a bit more than 10-15 minutes of rest if BVB are comfortably ahead. It could be the difference between winning these competitions and falling short.
What did you think of today’s match? Leave your thoughts below.