Borussia Dortmund won their fifth DFB-Pokal with a 4-1 victory over RB Leipzig at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. At times the victors looked like world beaters, but also showed exactly why they have struggled for consistency in the league.
It was a fast start for Die Schwarzgelben, who pressed high up the pitch early in the match, and they were rewarded with a brilliantly taken goal in the fifth minute. Jadon Sancho found the back of the net from a Mahmoud Dahoud pass, curling a sublime shot from a tight space just inside the box. Dortmund continued to dictate the play and after winning the ball in midfield, Marco Reus set Erling Haaland free towards the Leipzig goal. While it looked like center back Dayot Upamecano had closed the angle, Haaland stopped to cut the ball back onto his left foot and sent Upamecano flying off his shoulder to the floor. Haaland smashed it past goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi to make it 2-0. However, Dortmund were not done because as Leipzig stepped up their lines, Dahoud was able to free Reus behind the Leipzig back line. Racing on goal with Sancho to his right, Reus was able to keep the attentions of lone defender Marcel Halstenberg and goalkeeper Gulacsi to play in Sancho who tapped it in making it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Borussia Dortmund if they didn’t let Leipzig back in the game right? That is exactly what happened during the second half, when the introduction of Christopher Nkunku by Julian Nagelsmann off the Leipzig bench changed the game. Having made a great far post run, Nkunku nearly netted just 30 seconds into the second half, but managed to only hit the crossbar. Die Roten Bullen were first to every challenge and were winning every 50/50 ball and were unlucky not to score earlier in the match. It wouldn’t be until the 71st minute when Leipzig would finally get the goal they deserved. After a poor challenge by Emre Can outside the box, the ball fell to Dani Olmo who crushed a beautiful left-footed effort past Roman Bürki, who could do nothing about it. Unfortunately, Leipzig just did not possess enough firepower on the day, and a late Erling Haaland goal in the 87th minute, against the run of of play, ensured that Borussia Dortmund would once again become the DFB-Pokal champions. Here are three observations from the match:
Edin Terzic may re-consider his future
With a DFB-Pokal victory, Edin Terzic is now one of only five managers in Borussia Dortmund history to guide his team to the famous old cup. Hermann Eppenhoff, Horst Köppel, Jürgen Klopp, and Thomas Tuchel are the others, which begs the question, should Terzic look to grow outside the club? I want to keep Terzic around the club, he brings a passion and energy that we have not seen since the Klopp era. However, I just wonder how much growing he will do under next season’s coach Marco Rose.
Would it be better if Terzic took a job such as Eintracht Frankfurt for a couple seasons? He could always return later having acquired more tactical nuance to then combine with his enthusiasm and fervor. Surely Terzic would develop more rapidly as a the main man in charge somewhere else, but perhaps the board has already earmarked him to succeed in Rose in a few years anyway. This would keep their next man in house should any problems arise with this next appointment, but I am just left wondering if he won’t be thinking about that once the season closes and the offers start to roll in.
Jadon Sancho is special
He should have had a hat trick, and he will be kicking himself for not securing the match ball from a cup final, but we just won a title, so only positives here. This guy is really something else, isn’t he? It appears that Sancho just floats all over the pitch, putting in a challenge, popping up on runs and counters, and the silky footwork is something to behold as well. If you needed anymore proof that Sancho is world class, then look no further than the opening goal. How many people could have scored that goal in that tight of a window in world football? Go on, I’ll wait. The answer is not very many, and it is that difference which allows BVB to go on and win in difficult matches such as this.
Sancho gave the team the positive momentum it needed to go on and win this trophy, and while it got a little crazy in the second half, it was manageable from a Dortmund perspective because of the lead the team accrued in the opening 45 minutes. With 2 goals and an assist today, that brings Sancho’s tally to 6 goals and 5 assists in the 6 domestic cup matches this season, including a quarterfinal winner. If I had to choose between keeping Haaland or Sancho, I would choose the latter, because I think it will be a lot easier replacing what Haaland brings to the table, than what Sancho currently does. No matter what happens this summer in the transfer window, we should consider ourselves so fortunate for having had Sancho these last few years.
Reus deserved to lift the cup
What could have been has always been the question surrounding Marco Reus. The club captain was silky smooth today and it was great to be able to watch him win the DFB-Pokal for the second time. Reus has forgone money and trophies to be at the club he loves, and that is a decision that should be respected instead of unbeloved. Injuries have robbed him of his best years and yet Reus continues to put in impressive performances.
Having just missed out on the Klopp era of back-to-back Bundesliga champions, and the 2012 double winning side, there has always been disappointment come season’s end for Reus. Even with the German national team, Reus was a regular starter until he suffered a long term injury that forced him to miss the 2014 World Cup which his country won while he rehabilitated. Many supporters would have chosen finishing top four over the DFB-Pokal, but for my money this was more important. The Champions league only lasts for one season, but a trophy goes in the record books forever. While it looks like we may get both, I for one am happy that Reus got to lift the cup as club captain, because he’s earned it.