After a highly entertaining first half from both teams, Borussia Dortmund could not find the right answers up front to pull away from a determined Borussia Mönchengladbach side and were punished. Three goals from set pieces made for a frustrating watch as BVB were matched then outdone by the foals.
The first half saw early action as a goal from Florian Neuhaus was called back due to a foul in the build-up on Jude Bellingham. The tempo, however, had been clearly set and it did not take long for the aggressive Gladbach side to punish BVB again. A well taken free kick found the head of Nico Elvedi who nodded home. The goal served as a wake-up call with Dortmund finding gaps in transition play to counter the opposition defense. They did so to great effect when, 10 minutes later, Jadon Sancho found Erling Haaland who dispatched an exceptional finish to put the ball past Yann Sommer. Sancho again found Haaland after some tricky footwork and it looked like Dortmund would settle into another in a long series of wins against their Borussia brother.
This replay of Erling Haaland's second goal— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 22, 2021
It's a team game pic.twitter.com/5QLxTqbBNV
Alas, Dortmund again fell victim to their old foe, the set-piece, conceding again to Elvedi on another freekick after Roman Burki spilled the initial shot. Coming out from the break, Ramy Bensebaini was able to glide past the opposition and dispatch a (very saveable, in this writer’s opinion) shot to the par post. A final slap in the face came as a headed goal from a corner, with Marcus Thuram further highlighting BVB’s failure to react to their inability to defend set pieces this season.
Here are some observations from the match.
*sigh*..... Set Pieces
Today, Dortmund showed again that a dead-ball play is their truest Achilles heel. The first concession to Nico Elvedi was an exceptionally well hit ball into the box, and the defender showed excellent awareness to beat the line and head past a hapless Burki. But it was a dead-ball, and Dortmund failed to clear it. When the second came in, it was the goalkeeper to blame. Burki spilled the ball right into a dangerous area, failing to collect it against his body as he seemingly intended. He either needs to be confident that he has it in this scenario, or push the ball past the far post. His indecision cost BVB the first half lead. When the corner came in for Thuram’s goal, it almost felt like the ball was already in the net and when it found itself there it was only the fulfillment of an expectation.
Gladbach 4-2 Dortmund— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 22, 2021
One hell of a game pic.twitter.com/ItP7HO1nar
All of this amounts to a massive training ground failure on the part of the team. This is not a new problem, it is not an acceptable problem, and there is truly not much more to say on the matter. If the coaching staff and defense cannot figure out how to plug these holes, the “score 1 more goal than the opposition” philosophy will remain very difficult to fulfill, as we saw today.
Today we saw Marco Rose’s tactics in full flow, something that will intrigue many Dortmund fans and members of the board as well. Rose’s Gladbach were in the faces of the Dortmund defense from the get-go, as evidenced by Florian Neuhaus’s early overturned goal. Throughout the game the foals looked to counter into space and stretch the Dortmund defense. Their quick play forced errors from the black and yellows, which provided the opportunities for the dead-ball scenarios that won them the game.
Concerningly, Gladbach also found themselves very strung out when Dortmund came forward at pace, allowing Sancho to split open their defense. Such is the nature of attacking minded football, so to expect that the hiring of Marco Rose would evaporate the defensive frailties in this Dortmund side would be very naïve. For this reason, it will be important to consider whether Rose would improve on the system Edin Terzic is trying to build, or if it would be best to give the young, life-long fan in Terzic an extended chance to make his mark.
A Full 90 Minutes from Julian Brandt
Brandt saw a rare full feature today and, for the most part, put in a solid shift. It seemed that Brandt was able to connect his ideas to his teammates and looked more like the creative, light-footed player we expected to take the midfield by the horns this season. Though the performance was far from flawless, he worked harder on and off the ball than we have seen in his latest appearances and was rewarded with a full 90, with Reus being substituted for Gio Reyna instead of his German counterpart. The team would benefit massively if Brandt could carry this glimmer of form forward, as Reus looks very short of ideas and legs in the center. If Terzic finally has the confidence to get Brandt into this role as a part of the regular rotation, he can hopefully establish better chemistry with the players around him to link more of his ideas into successful plays.
What did you think of the tough result today? Let us know your thoughts below.