In the semifinal of the DFB Pokal, with a trip to the Olympiastadion to face RB Leipzig on the line, Borussia Dortmund came out swinging and put up five first half goals against Holstein Kiel.
The scoring started early when Jadon Sancho cut inside from the touchline and hit Gio Reyna with a pass. The American spun and smashed a shot that beat the keeper on his strong side. He followed it minutes later with a tap-in that capped off a beautiful team goal. A dummy from Marco Reus gave room for Jadon Sancho to collect the ball in space and play Reus in near the goal line. Reus managed to nudge the ball to Raphael Guerreiro, who flicked the ball into the open space in front of the goal face with a nifty back heel. All Reyna had to do was push the ball into the wide-open net.
Two goals down, Holstein Kiel were effectively out of the game. BVB scored three more goals, one each from Hazard, Bellingham, and Reus. The second half was very quiet, other than a shocking injury suffered by Mateu Morey. This now leaves Dortmund with two crucial matches in the weeks ahead against RB Leipzig.
A bittersweet victory
From about the 25th minute, the result was never in doubt. It looked like Borussia Dortmund were going to cruise to a stress-free, easy victory. While Holstein Kiel never once threatened to mount a comeback, the match still turned sour in the second half, when Mateu Morey crumbled to the turf. He extended his leg to try to bring down the ball from the air, but as his leg fell back to the ground, it bent inwards in an excruciating position.
As Morey writhed on the floor in agony, his screams echoing through the empty stands of the Westfalenstadion, I felt sick to my stomach. I had to walk away. Behind the bench, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Erling Haaland were visibly shaken. Sebastian Kehl looked shocked. Sometimes, you just know when an injury is catastrophic, and while we haven’t had any official word from Borussia Dortmund, it seems likely that young Morey will be out for a long time.
His injury made it hard to focus on the fact that BVB made it to the final. I suppose the best thing for BVB to do will be to go on and win the final on behalf of Morey. No matter what state he’s in at the time, he deserves to lift the trophy.
No Haaland, no problem!
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous at first, when I heard that Erling Haaland would miss today’s match with a muscular injury. My worries were quickly laid to rest, though, after BVB came out of the gates flying, and scored thrice within 26 minutes. Dortmund have had a tendency to rely on Haaland this season. Their habit of leaning on through-balls to Erling has made their offensive play one-dimensional throughout the season.
Today, though, the squad showed that they’re more than capable of finding other ways to score. The attacking core of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Gio Reyna, and Thorgan Hazard was more than Holstein Kiel could handle. One would drop deep and collect the ball while the others would dart towards goal or down the line. The next play, the roles would reverse. Jadon Sancho tore apart Kiel’s right side: it was his dribbling run from the touch line to the penalty area that freed up space for Gio Reyna, who expertly curled a shot past the keeper for Dortmund’s first goal.
As I’ll explain below, Holstein Kiel were never going to be the toughest opponents today, so it’s far too early to make any rash declarations about how BVB don’t need Haaland and are a great team without him, but it was nice to see that the team at least has the quality and creativity to create goals in his absence.
Gio Reyna has returned to form
The young American’s start to the season was nothing short of electric. It led many pundits
and various dashing part-time soccer bloggers to declare that he was further along in his development than Christian Pulisic. Unfortunately, a long dry-spell during the winter pumped the breaks on the Reyna hype train, and many equally dashing soccer bloggers to opine that Reyna was in desperate need of a break. He continued his good form today with a brace, including a beautiful curled low shot to open the scoring.
Over the last month or so, Reyna’s form has started to pick up again. He had an assist against VFB Stuttgart and and goal against Werder Bremen, and despite not scoring was one of BVB’s best players against Union Berlin. Could it be because Terzic read my article and severely limited his minutes starting in mid February, and that this period of rest allowed him to recuperate and find his form? I’m not saying that this is all because of me, but... it’s all because of me.
It won’t be this easy against RB Leipzig
While today’s victory was encouraging, BVB can’t allow it to cloud their vision ahead of the next two crucial matches against RB Leipzig, first in the Bundesliga on Saturday and then in the DFB-Pokal final the following Thursday. Holstein Kiel played their third match over seven days, due to a series of cancelled matches caused by COVID-19. While they’re a decent team for the 2. Bundesliga, are in the fight for promotion, and even managed to defeat Bayern Munich earlier in the competition, they were clearly second-best today.
RB Leipzig, on the other hand, are a different story entirely. While Dayot Upamecano and Julian Nagelsmann may be on their way out to Bayern Munich, both will still be desperate to win a trophy before leaving, and they’ll defend much better than Holstein Kiel. Hopefully Erling Haaland returns so that BVB can face the Red Bulls with their maximum attacking potential.
What did you think of today’s game? Leave your thoughts below.