Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League campaign is off to a great start. Behind a fantastic performance by Jude Bellingham, the Black and Yellow rolled over Beşiktaş, giving their hosts few chances. The win was encouraging for several reasons.
This BVB Is Not Just the Erling Haaland Show
The endless hyping of Erling Haaland took a respite tonight. Haaland may have scored, but he was far from the best player on the pitch tonight. That honor goes to Jude Bellingham, who played on the right wing. Bellingham gave BVB the lead with a fantastic goal from a tight angle that left Beşiktaş keeper Destanoglu looking worse for wear. Hot-take incoming:
Jude Bellingham, very good at football.— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) September 15, 2021
Bellingham’s second major action of the night came in a throw-in situation. Bellingham eluded two markers with a run into the penalty box that Guerreiro picked up on the sideline. He put the ball over the trio at Bellingham’s feet. Now on the left-hand side of the pitch, Bellingham beat a third defender with a quick chop left and delivered a perfect, hard-struck pass inside for Haaland, who hammered it right into the net. Haaland’s goal, but Bellingham’s work.
Thomas Meunier turning things around
Shocker, I know. For the past few weeks, one constant theme in Fear the Wall’s Slack channel is the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over Thomas Meunier, including his most recent performance against Bayer Leverkusen 04. Despite a dismal first half against Leverkusen, Meunier managed to provide an important assist to Haaland. He put in another strong performance against Beşiktaş, registering an assist on Bellingham’s opening goal.
BVB’s defense has been its Achilles heel this season, but a substantial portion of that weakness will evaporate if Meunier can finally play up to this level with consistency. It is no small feat to keep your composure in a rocking arena in Istanbul. Meunier even forced a save by Destanoglu!
Attention might turn instead to Manuel Akanji, whose performance left much to be desired. While Mats Hummels was almost impregnable (winning 5 out of 6 duels), Akanji took on three duels and lost all three. Axel Witsel, who was involved in conceding Beşiktaş’s late 1-2, does not seem to be a viable reinforcement. Hopefully Hummels, who left the game after 70 minutes, is not seriously hurt.
Gotta finish those chances
Although BVB was firmly in the saddle for most of the match, the team should never have let Beşiktaş get even a sniff of a draw. Not because Beşiktaş should not have scored, although BVB could have been more resolute in the late minutes of the game, but rather because the Black and Yellows’ lead should have been higher. At the very least, 3-0, long before Montero scored a fantastic header.
Haaland and Reus both missed big chances in the first half, but the crucial scene was in the 71st minute, when Moukoko found Reus, who played the ball through to Haaland—who was stopped by Destanoglu. Haaland had an uncharacteristically quiet game despite his one goal, while Bellingham delivered a fantastic performance. On balance, better finishing all around would do BVB wonders.
+1: Holy hell, those jerseys really are that awful
When BVB’s new third jersey by Puma leaked a while ago, it was universally panned. An unimaginative design, an offensive yellow verging on green, and no club crest on the chest. Well, we finally saw them in action, and they are really that awful.
Marketing director Carsten Cramer said that the club had “taken the fans’ reaction to heart” and declined to present the new third jersey publicly. “The leak was so bad that it generated so much criticism that was in fact not warranted,” Camer said, “so we not only took the criticism to heart, but we also considered how we might correct the problem.”
Welp, I guess we’ll have to wait on that correction. At least BVB inflicted the jerseys on the fans in Istanbul?