Borussia Dortmund traveled to Andalusia in Southern Spain to take on Sevilla FC in the UEFA Champions League. They were in need of a good performance after a rough few weeks, and the team did not disappoint on the big stage. Die Schwarzgelben ran out 3-2 winners on the night courtesy of a 25-yard stunner from Mahmoud Dahoud and a brace from star striker Erling Haaland. After an unlucky double deflection that saw a Suso strike beat goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, Dortmund remained solid for the majority of the match until a late set-piece goal gave Sevilla new life. Here are three observations from the match:
Change In Formation
Dortmund coach Edin Terzic changed things up for the match against the reigning Europa League champions, matching them with a 4-3-3 formation that included a midfield trio of Jude Bellingham, Emre Can, and starting XI shocker Mahmoud Dahoud. The midfield three was crucial in keeping control of the game with a better balance between attack and defense. BVB typically line up in a 4-2-3-1 which at times against TSG Hoffenheim over the weekend looked like 4-1-3-2 with Bellingham running so far forward he looked like an additional striker at times. This tactical tweak by Terzic allowed Dortmund to remain dangerous in transition while simultaneously solidifying the midfield in front of defense.
Out of possession, Dortmund were sitting back in a 4-5-1 allowing Sevilla to spread out and play the ball around. When Sevilla rotated the ball back to the center backs BVB pressed the ball quickly with wingers Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus cutting off passing lanes wide, and Dahoud and Bellingham closing off passes in the midfield. It was this tactic that allowed Dortmund to win the ball and score the third goal. Against most teams in the league Dortmund will not be able to do this, but in the Champions League, where they will face top sides in Europe that like to play high and control the ball, this tactic could help them make a deep run in the tournament. Will we see Dortmund play this formation again?
Edin Terzic Must Play Mahmoud Dahoud
Seriously, if Dahoud ends up on the bench this weekend I am going to flip out. Dahoud was good. Really, really good. Not only did he score an amazing goal at the most perfect time, he was commanding his side of the midfield for most of the match. Playing on the left side of the midfield three, Dahoud was moving into space well and passing through Sevilla most of the match. However, it was what Mo did out of possession that I found most impressive. Several times throughout the match Dahoud dispossessed his opposite number and allowed Dortmund to break forward on the counter-attack or hold the ball and make Sevilla work to get it back. We know there was a falling out earlier this year with Terzic and Dahoud, but after this performance Dahoud has earned another start in the Revierderby at the weekend.
The Midfield Needs Emre Can
Borussia Dortmund need a warrior in the middle of the pitch to shield the back line, and that is exactly what Emre Can did today. The Candyman sat in front of the back four for most of the match and allowed Dahoud and Bellingham to do the running and passing just in front of him. We know Can can play in the back three, and he can play right back when required, but it is a waste for what he brings to this team.
There was a moment in the 68th minute where BVB were struggling, Emre Can came flying in on a Sevilla player, won the tackle, and drew a foul in the process. Sevilla had just made a triple change shortly before and were threatening to score and Dortmund could not keep possession. In the background we could see Edin Terzic getting fired up after the Can tackle and it gave the players a big lift. While Can was good, it did appear that he was beat for pace on Sevilla’s second goal by Luuk De Jong, who finished beautifully past Hitz. Nonetheless, this team still needs the Candyman lurking in the middle of the pitch because there is no player quite like him.
If someone had told you, before the game, that Dortmund would win 3-2 away to Sevilla, you probably would have been very happy with the result, especially considering the recent run of form. However, we cannot help but feel we left Sevilla with new life with that late set piece goal. Terzic needs to get the team to look past that now, take the positives and move on, because the Revierderby is Saturday and nothing but a win is acceptable.
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