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Three Observations as more Refereeing Controversy Helps Push Dortmund to the Europa League

Thursday nights again... it’s been a while.

Sporting CP v Borussia Dortmund: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

After ninety-seven minutes in Lisbon, Dortmund have officially been relegated to the Europa League. Two goals from Pedro Goncalves put the Black and Yellows in an early hole, but it was a red card decision from the referee that once again damned Dortmund to an unsavory fate. A late goal from Donyell Malen was not enough to scrape BVB back into the game, and the players will feel extremely hard done to go out of the campaign on two poor red cards and a laundry list of injured players.

Make no mistake, Dortmund were outplayed for all but fifteen minutes, an accurate representation of what has been a dismal year in the UCL. Dortmund have shown glimpses of their European promise, but without Haaland and without any smidge of luck, those glimpses stopped resulting in goals.

Now, Die Schwarzgelben must prepare to run in for a chance at the Europa League title, something they have not competed for since the 2017/18 season.

Dortmund’s Haaland Fakeout is Wearing Out

As October turned into November, some Dortmund fans were eager to see that the team was still gathering points without talismanic striker Erling Haaland. The impact of Haaland is undeniable, but players like Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard picked up as much slack as they were able to keep the points rolling in (in the Bundesliga, at least). Today, despite a great effort from Donyell Malen, that luck ran out. Dortmund were dying for a Haaland after the start of the second half, but there was no one to smash one home like the big Norwegian does. The momentum was stopped by an unfortunate red, and I encourage anyone who understands what happened there to fill me in down in the comments. That is all I will say on the matter.

Some General Player Assesments

Is Nico Schulz out to destroy this team? I am wondering if he spent his time on the injury table plotting his revenge against the squad, against Emma herself even. Schulz’s back pass began the downward spiral for Dortmund; a weakened defense was working its hardest to keep the opposition out until Schulz opened the door, nay, laid down the red carpet. Ugh.

Donyell Malen had a solid performance today, and I am excited to see him collect two goals from two games. Malen was working hard today, making deep runs into space and registered four shots, three of which made it on target. He was unlucky to be denied by a block from Coates and from a ding off the near post. Donny’s talent is there, and I truly hope it continues to shine through as he grows in confidence.

Oh Can. You run, you work, you fight. Today, you lost my man. It is not clear how, and I promised earlier not to talk about it again, but I pray in the future that we can get through a few more UCL matches where you can be simply uneventful. But honestly, never change.

The Coming UEL Campaign

Europa League... a place you find yourself. A thursday you would normally spend at happy hour. But still! A chance for a trophy Dortmund should look to take! Let’s have a look at who we might face off against in the pending round of 32 (I will be honest, I do not remember how this works. I may be about to discuss a bunch of teams we cannot actually play. I’m still upset about this game, cut me some slack). Bear in mind that results this week will affect who clinches qualification.

Lyon

UEL Record: 4-0-0

League Record 5-4-4 (10th place)

Despite a strong UEL campaign, the French heavyweight are languishing in the midtable at home. A team that is constantly picked apart, Lyon are struggling a bit with the loss of Memphis Depay, but Lucas Paqueta and Carl Toko-Ekambi are doing their best to fill the void. This is a hard team to predict going into the next round of the UEL.

Leverkusen

UEL Record: 3-1-0

League Record: 6-3-3 (4th place)

Leverkusen were cruising at the start of the season, but tailed off a bit after the loss of Patrik Schick to injury. Still, they are a strong Bundesliga opponent albiet one we can prepare for. Real Betis and Celtic fill out a competent UEL group, but the German side has managed to take a commanding lead of their group.

West Ham

UEL Record 3-1-0

League Record: 7-2-3 (4th place)

An easy group has helped West Ham take the top spot, but make no mistake, their 4th place standing in the league speaks to the quality performances David Moyes is coaxing from his players. Drawing West Ham could prove a solid test for Borussia Dortmund, with or without Erling Haaland.


Give us your thoughts on Dortmund’s UEL prospects below.