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Three Observations From Dortmund’s Friendly Vs. Bologna FC

After grabbing a VPN free trial that I will promptly cancel, I was able to tune in for today’s game.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bologna - Preseason Friendly Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Continuing their preparations for the new season, Dortmund faced off against Bologna FC today in Bad Ragaz for a friendly. Dortmund went into the friendly still waiting on the return of a senior center-back, deploying the same pairing of Lennard Maloney and Antonios Papadopoulos that has been seen in earlier friendlies. Here is how the Black and Yellows lined up for the match.

This is the first time I have ever seen Dortmund employ a 4-1-2-1-2 (or 4-4-2 diamond, whatever makes you happy), with Brandt and Reyna taking up the more box-to-box roles behind Reus. Dahoud did well in the game to shield the defense, but in truth the Dortmund goal was barely tested throughout the contest and Dahoud found himself more a part of the attack than the defense. Haaland and Tigges linked up in attack, with their similar hair colors making them very difficult to tell apart. Hopefully Marco Rose will suggest a dye job for one of his strikers to help us fans. Dortmund began the game on the front foot, keeping the pressure on the Bologna defense until Gio Reyna was able to smack a loose ball in the box into the top netting of the Bologna goal. He was followed by Lennard Maloney, who was found free at the back post by talisman Marco Reus. Maloney showed his class with a perfectly weighted header back across goal to beat Bologna’s Lukas Skorupski. Tigges added to the tally after a break lead by Mahmoud Dahoud.

Here are some of my takes from the match.

Reyna is feeling that #7 Fire

Gio Reyna took his goal with maximum composure and class, but it was not just one bright moment for the young American. With the new number on his back, Gio worked excellently both on and off of the ball to create space and progress play up the field. He floated between a CM, RM, and CAM role, interchanging positions to confuse defenders and eventually find the space to score. He lead several counterattacks, collecting the ball in the Dortmund half and gliding upfield to allow his teammates to find space between and behind the defenders. The American Dream looked fit and firing, which will be a welcome sight to new coach Marco Rose as he looks to fill a Jadon Sancho sized hole.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bologna - Preseason Friendly Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

That Midfield

Definitely interesting! As the game developed, Dortmund’s midfield became flatter, with Dahoud progressing into the attacking third, but Rose approached the game with Brandt and Reyna in midfield in front of Dahoud. This is a role Dahoud has played before, but infrequently (and only against teams that were miserable in attack, ala Schalke). Brandt and Reyna were able to tuck in to progress the ball and drift wide to find space, but in the first half it was the fullbacks taking up the majority of the wide areas. Brandt looked rather unsettled in his role leading to several wasted possessions. Rose seems to be looking for the proper way to place both Julian Brandt and Marco Reus on the field, but the younger of the Germans still looked like he was struggling to find his feet. This was summed up by a wide open chance that he buried in the goalkeeper’s hands. Further up the field, Marco Reus looked to be enjoying his role, linking up well with the strikers to find space and get through on goal. The space Reus occupied reminded me of the 2018/19 season when he and Sancho set the league on fire; hopefully we can see some of that again from the talisman.


With a full preseason to prepare for the coming season, Reyna, Reus, and Dahoud looked 100% up for it today, with Reus playing the full 90 minutes. It was great to see Reus so prepared for the season, as he will be hoping to put down another injury-free campaign. Dahoud looks to have put his years of inconsistency behind him with a commanding midfield performance, bolstered by his recently signed new contract. Erling Haaland had a solid 70 minute shift, with the Norwegian finding a few chances in the area but none of them testing the opposition goal.

Fullbacks Nico Schulz and Felix Passlack looked fully fit, but once again showed that they do not have the quality to start for this BVB side. Schulz demonstrated, as he has before, that he can run fast then cross poorly, which he put on display over, and over, and over. And over. Passlack got forward well and showed commitment, throwing himself at a scoring chance, but otherwise providing a few ineffective crosses.

From the substitute bench came Youssoufa Moukoko and new signing Adboulaye Kamara, among a few other academy players. Kamara got forward well on one occasion, but will need time to reach full fitness and chemistry with his teammates. As for Moukoko, the young star looked rusty coming off of a long injury layoff, with poor decision making leading to a rough outing. With some first team training, he should get right back to where he left off.

Was anyone else able to watch the match? What did you think? What player are you most excited to see this season? Let us know in the comments.