What a way to start the Bundesliga, with a five-goal route and all three points! Borussia Dortmund came roaring out of the gate, and led by star striker Erling Haaland, put Eintracht Frankfurt to the sword with a thorough 5-2 victory. Despite an injury-riddled squad and a back line stuck together with duct tape, BVB’s offensive workhorses overpowered Frankfurt from start to finish, and ensured a successful start to the season.
It was none other than the captain, Marco Reus, who got the scoring started in the first half, with a cool finish courtesy of an assist from Erling Haaland. Despite a quick equalizer off an unfortunate own goal by Felix Passlack, BVB rebounded to seize the lead again with a goal from Thorgan Hazard. From this point Die Schwarzgelben never looked back. A brace from Haaland and another goal from Gio Reyna only made the scoreline worse for Eintracht Frankfurt. Although they were able to pick up a goal towards the end of the game, after about 30 minutes, the result was never in doubt.
Here are my observations from the game:
The Front Line Dominated
After today, everybody is going to be talking about Erling Haaland, and rightfully so. BVB’s star striker scored two goals and assisted another pair, adding to the already enormous spotlight on his shoulders as one of the most talented young forwards in the world. But focusing only on Haaland does a disservice to the rest of BVB’s forwards - Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, and Gio Reyna - who were all electric. The way they moved as a unit with overlapping runs, interchanging dropping deep and pressing the line, drawing in defenders and switching the play, and more, made them look like one of the most dangerous attacking quartets I’ve ever seen.
Look at BVB’s first goal. Haaland obviously did a great job carrying the ball into empty space and fending off a challenge, but he also had two wingers on either side of him that could’ve been played in for goals. He chose Reus, and was rewarded with an assist.
Here’s the buildup to the second goal. Once the ball is turned over, all four forwards are off to the races. A quick passing combination and a gorgeous backheel from Marco Reus was all that was needed to put BVB in the exact same position as the first goal: Haaland with the ball at his feet against a pair of center backs with a winger on either side of him. The only difference was that Haaland went right instead of left, but the result was the same: a goal.
BVB repeated this same sequence with slight variations so many times that I practically lost count. It helped that BVB’s midfield pivot of Jude Bellingham and Mahmoud Dahoud picked Frankfurt apart with ease. I hope this game eased any concerns that BVB will have trouble scoring this season.
The Back Line... Didn’t
If Borussia Dortmund don’t challenge for the title this season, it will be because of a lack of serious defensive depth. Felix Passlack’s own goal, which I won’t harp on, was unfortunately emblematic of a largely weak performance. He was frequently out of position, and Axel Witsel repeatedly had to move into a quasi-right back position to cover for him. Speaking of Witsel, I thought he handled his center back duties admirably. Despite this, I’ll still be very relieved when Hummels returns, and Witsel returns to his midfield role. Nico Schulz had a mixed performance. He looked dangerous moving forward at times, making good runs, but he was never able to follow any of them up with an accurate cross. I thought he was fine defensively, at least better than Passlack.
The glue that held the entire back line together was Manuel Akanji. He was absolutely imperious, frequently bailing out his fellow defenders with well-placed challenges. He went 5-for-5 with his ground and aerial duels and even blocked a shot off the line in the second half. Amongst an otherwise shaky back line, he was a total anchor, and I’m excited to see whether he can embrace this leadership role in the coming months.
Gregor Kobel Looked Sharp
I wrote back in the early Summer that I was not particularly excited about the acquisition of Gregor Kobel. I know it’s still early, but after today, I’m hopeful that some of my fears may have been exaggerated. Kobel made two big saves, one a dive to a high shot to his left and the other on a point-blank header. He was very calm on the ball and barely put a pass wrong in 90 minutes.
My favorite aspect of his game was his positioning. BVB played a very high line, which could have been catastrophic, especially with Dortmund’s piecemeal back line. Fortunately, Kobel frequently positioned himself far outside of the penalty area, reminiscent of Manuel Neuer, which always gave BVB’s defenders an outlet when under pressure. This was something we never had with Burki or Hitz, so I’m very excited to see whether Kobel can keep it up.
The Whole Squad Brought Intensity
Although the squad had some mixed individual performances, one thing that every single member of the XI brought was intensity. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Dortmund squad press so hard. Even when they were 3-1 and 4-1 up, I could hear Marco Rose barking from the sideline. Jude Bellingham would charge like a bat out of hell all the way to Kevin Trapp, with the entire squad at his heels. Frankfurt never once had a peaceful moment on the ball, and the lopsided scoreline was the natural result of this pressure.
We never saw that level of intensity from Lucien Favre. We saw it sparingly under Edin Terzic. If Marco Rose can make it routine, then BVB will be very difficult to play against this year. A true test will be Tuesday’s match against Bayern Munich, who won’t fold nearly as easily as Frankfurt did today.
What did you think of today’s victory? Leave your thoughts below.