Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart produced a thrilling encounter for their fans in the first game back from the international break. With Bayern Munich dropping points to FC Augsburg on Friday, the Dortmund players need to come out of the gates hot to ensure they closed the gap to the league leaders.
An early show of force failed to bear fruit, and the hosts went into halftime at 0-0. It would take until the 56th minute when Donyell Malen managed to squeeze his shot through a crowded box, notching his first of the season in the Bundesliga. The goal will hopefully do wonders for his confidence, as Malen was well rewarded for some serious show of effort throughout the game. Stuttgart made for a blockbuster ending, leveling the score in the 63rd minute, forcing Dortmund to wait until the 85th to get their game-winner. A well-worked counterattack set Thorgan Hazard in on goal, and his effort was cleaned up by the talisman Marco Reus to seal the result for the hosts.
The captain looked refreshed after returning early from international duty and made his impact on the game felt for the full 90 minutes. Reus moved fluidly around the box, opening space for other attackers and digging deep to recover several losses of possession. He was unlucky not to score an early freekick but was rewarded for an astounding show of effort and fitness to create and finish a full-field counterattack. Reus is in a great vein of form, and it is a pleasure to be along for the ride.
Malen was challenged by Marco Rose during the international break to well, frankly, work harder. Malen has looked off the pace for the majority of the season, only notching one goal in the Champions League. Today’s effort was a confident attempt from a tight angle, and it was massive for the pace of the game, giving Dortmund something to latch onto when frustrations were beginning to show. He also had two “nearly’ moments on a headed effort and a neat turn in the box. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something better for the Dutchman.
The young Englishman took about as many hits as he made passes today, with Stuttgart looking to stymie Dortmund’s attack by eliminating Bellingham’s influence. The young midfielder was not to be deterred, however, as he continued to win free-kicks for his team and fight to keep and progress the ball all game. Simply put, another day at the office for our rising star.
It was tough to choose between Brandt and Guerreiro here, especially with the latter only putting in about 60 minutes. I have opted for the left back because of how tremendously apparent he made his value to the team. The left side looked revitalized with Guerreiro back on the field, and the statistics matched. Guerreiro won nearly all of his challenges in the first half, and the AWS in-game graphics showed that Dortmund’s ball progression was nearly split between the two wings. This graphic had heavily favored the right side in Guerreiro’s absence. I absolutely loved Marius Wolf in the left wing back position and look forward to seeing him there again soon; Guerreiro, however, is simply a master of what he does, and it was a breath of fresh air to see Dortmund’s attack ticking again.
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