Borussia Dortmund went into this weekend with the hopes to make a statement, after their 4-0 loss to Ajax, but hobbled by a number of injuries, including to star striker Erling Haaland. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the Arminia Bielefeld game yesterday because Rose was relying on a makeshift first eleven, and an offense built around a struggling Donyell Malen.
Thankfully BVB played pretty well and found goals from Emre Can, Mats Hummels, and Jude Bellingham. It wasn’t the perfect performance, and I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a “statement”, but they were able to right the ship and claim an important three points in the title race.
Here’s my thoughts from yesterday’s game.
Dortmund’s Defense is a Real Problem
One of the real joys of watching Borussia Dortmund is the sense that they have the capability to get goals against absolutely any opponent. Unfortunately, this season, that has gone from being an enjoyable feature to an absolute necessity, because BVB are also guaranteed to concede at least one against absolutely any opponent.
Dortmund’s defense has become a real cause for concern. They currently rank as the fifth most porous backline in the league, having conceded 15 goals in just 9 games. Yesterday they looked like they might finally keep their first clean sheet of the season in the Bundesliga (and only their third in total), but those hopes were dashed in the dying moments of the game, when Mats Hummels conceded a silly penalty, which was converted by Fabian Klos.
While I don’t think we can reasonably expect BVB to become a watertight defensive operation any time soon, especially given their struggles defending set pieces, they’ve absolutely got to make improvements. They cannot go into every game knowing they need at least two goals to win a game, because they’re gonna ship goals themselves. A team that cannot keep a clean sheet has no chance of winning the league.
Jude Bellingham Goes from Strength to Strength
Bellingham had an incredible first season with Borussia Dortmund, but I think there were several areas of his game that really needed improvement. Incredibly, this season he seems to have made huge strides in basically every facet of his game.
It was clear that Bellingham had to become a bigger threat in the final third, and he has made big improvements on that front, contributing 0.47 goals and assists per 90 in the Bundesliga this season. In yesterday’s game, he showed even more, scoring this absolutely incredible goal:
Phenomenal. @BellinghamJude, that is out of this world. pic.twitter.com/Qzl4EhtE0N— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) October 23, 2021
On top of this wonderful goal, Bellingham also contributed a pretty astonishing three goal-creating actions. It was a really impressive offensive performance, to go along with his customary defensive efforts.
As much as Bellingham has improved this season, it feels like there’s still so much more to come from him. If he keeps developing at this pace, he is going to be one of the best players in the world pretty soon.
Marco Rose’s Rotations
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed since Marco Rose took over as BVB’s manager, is the growing role of numerous squad players. Rose has found roles for the likes of Nico Schulz, Marius Wolf, Julian Brandt, and Thomas Meunier (who has been excellent all season long). Bringing these guys in from the dark is really refreshing, and it is of real importance to Borussia Dortmund’s chances of going deep in all three competitions this season.
In previous seasons, the likes of Lucien Favre have leaned on a strong but small core of players and the rest of the squad have been unable to contribute even when called upon. If Rose can continue to rotate successfully, it should help BVB cope with injury crises and keep the whole squad fresh and in form.
What did you think of the performance yesterday? And why do you think BVB’s defense is so leaky at the moment?