Borussia Dortmund have now won six straight domestic matches in all competitions since their matchday 27 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, running out 3-2 winners today against RB Leipzig. It was a game of two halves which saw Dortmund dominate the early exchanges, as club captain Marco Reus opened the scoring seven minutes into the game. Dortmund continued to play great combinations in the midfield and the attacking third as they looked more likely to increase their lead than for Leipzig to level. However, it would not be until the 51st minute that BVB would double their advantage, thanks to a coolly taken finish by Jadon Sancho. With a two goal lead and in complete control of the game, it appeared Dortmund were on easy street. However, Leipzig fought back and made a game of it.
In fact, it would be Klostermann who would head home a corner in the 63rd minute, beating his marker Emre Can and Mats Hummels to the ball and heading perfectly into the corner. Dortmund became disoriented, and when Hummels gambled on a through ball and fell to the floor, Leipzig had 3 attackers in the box and Hee-Chan Hwang found Dani Olmo for the equalizer in the 77th minute. It looked like Dortmund would at best settle for a draw, but a brilliantly chipped ball by substitute Julian Brandt put Sancho into space behind the defense. Leipzig recovered well and it appeared that the move was lost, but a well-timed run by Raphael Guerrerio opened up the Leipzig defense and Rapha was able to feed the ball back to Sancho for an 87th minute winner. Dortmund now temporarily find themselves back in the top four with a two point lead over Frankfurt, who play our friends Mainz tomorrow. Please Mainz, please, a draw would be fine with us.
Here are some obser...... questions that we should ask from this match:
Is Jadon Sancho the best winger in the world?
Is there any pure winger out there that is better than Jadon Sancho? Christian Pulisic? Kingsley Coman? Leroy Sane? I would take Sancho any day of the week and twice on Sunday over just about anybody right now, and for good reason. Even in his ‘down year’ Sancho’s production is off the charts while covering up failures in Dortmund’s build-up play and defensive frailties. Sancho has 48 goals and 55 assists in 134 matches, and he just turned 21. Sancho was not even at his best today, but still managed to rinse Klostermann anytime he had the ball at his feet, and he ‘megged Dayot Upamecano on a couple of occasions as well. The future of the Three Lions is simply electric and there is no one else quite like him.
Was it a mistake to take off Dahoud?
Yes, there is an argument that at 2-0 you play the defensive game, but that is exactly how Leipzig got back into this match. Thomas Delaney does not have the passing ability of Dahoud, nor the presence to adjust the tempo of the match when it is needed. While the Leipzig set piece goal could be seen as bad luck, the match became far too open and BVB needed someone like Dahoud to dictate the tempo and look for openings as Leipzig pushed forward. Without a great central passer on the ball, Leipzig were able to step up their lines and squeeze Dortmund into their own half. Coincidentally, it was the introduction of Brandt that gave Dortmund another passing threat which helped to create the winning goal. While Edin Terzic got away with all three points, this is definitely something he will be thinking about should Dortmund have a lead in the DFB-Pokal final on Thursday.
Should Terzic stick with Hazard up top for the cup final?
This really depends on the health of star striker Erling Haaland, but Toto seems to have brought something to the last couple of matches that feels different. The combination play between the attackers is much quicker with Hazard leading the line, and while he is not nearly as strong as Haaland, Hazard did well with the ball at his feet. The opening goal showed great connection and movement, and the attack without Haaland has scored eight goals in two matches. Should Terzic have a healthy Haaland at his disposal, he will have some serious questions to answer. Do you stick with an attack that is firing on all cylinders? And possibly save Haaland for later in the match, in case of extra time? Or do you start your best striker, because he is your best striker, even if he did just come back from injury?
Does Borussia Dortmund have the momentum for Thursday’s Final?
Dortmund have beaten Leipzig both times they have played this season, and once without their star striker. Going into this match, I wondered if Julian Nagelsmann would rest several key players for Thursday, given they are most likely stuck at second in the Bundesliga table. However, Nagelsmann played his best hand, went all in after the river card, and lost. Die Roten Bullen need to pick themselves up and dust themselves off before Thursday, but this loss may have shaken their belief. It is entirely possible that Leipzig use this loss as motivation to get it right in Berlin, but given their body language after the Sancho winner, I think this loss really crushed their confidence. Leipzig’s season effectively ends on Thursday. Dortmund will need to storm out of the gates, as they did today, and stomp on any hopes that the Red Bulls may be clinging to.
Does Leipzig center back Willi Orban look like the guy from high school who captained both the football and wrestling teams before joining the Navy?