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Match Observations: Borussia Dortmund Downed by a Determined Dennis Zakaria

Using whimsy to mask how utterly demoralizing that game was.

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund/Getty Images

In Marco Rose’s return to Monchengladbach, the German tactician did not have enough creativity to overcome the loss of two of Dortmund’s brightest stars. Surprise injuries to Erling Haaland and Marco Reus marred what looked to be a promising afternoon for Die Schwarzgelben, who came to lay down a marker against their head coach’s former employer. Dortmund found goals hard to come by without their key players, and a hot-and-cold Gladbach took full advantage of the uncertainty in the Dortmund lineup. Beginning the game aggressively, Gladbach pressed very high against the Dortmund line and were not afraid to get stuck into their challenges. When Dortmund attempted to respond in suit, they were less precise and found themselves frequently penalized by a, well, card-happy referee. When Mahmoud Dahoud was given a second yellow in the 40th minute, it was pretty much curtains from there.

Here are the match observations from this disappointing outing.

Injuries

I’m sorry but what the hell is going on in training? MMA brawls? Marathon runs? This team currently has TEN players on the injury table. TEN. Whether it is the training style, the work of the physios, or Emma the Bee herself going around swinging a hammer at players’ legs, it is unacceptable to have nearly a full squad of players injured six games into the season. Considering that Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz only returned to the fold in this game, that number is nearly twelve. I would be inclined to say that Dortmund have a pretty deep squad, and the lineup they fielded today still nearly managed to equalize the game, but those players are all that’s left. There are individuals in the squad like Gio Reyna and Julian Brandt who can (in theory) fill the boots of Marco Reus when he goes down injured, but they cannot do that if they’re injured too. There’s plenty of excuses to be made on the IR list, Gio was injured with the USMNT, Zagadou has been injured since the French Revolution, yes yes. It’s still annoying.

Malen Concerns

I have been eager to make excuses for Donyell Malen since he arrived, knowing that adjusting to a new league and playing alongside Erling Haaland would always bring its challenges. Today, in the absence of the big Norwegian, all eyes were on Dortmund’s new arrival to deliver the goods and help his team find the back of the net. That... did not happen. Malen was not able to make an impact on the game and was hooked in favor of Reinier before the end of the game. Given the state of the front line, it was pretty damning that the only fit player who could be considered a starting forward was not even given until the end of the game.

I have continued to advocate that Malen has been working hard to win the ball, progress the play, and contribute to the team’s success. But against Gladbach, he needed to do what he has done so freely for the his national side and in the Eredevisie; score goals. I still do not think it is time to start firing off the warning flares, but the team really needed Malen to do something extraordinary today, and unfortunately it did not happen for him.

The Sending off/The Nature of the Game

Today was a gritty game for BVB, who were repeatedly fouled by an aggressive Gladbach side. In the first half, Gladbach had the better possession, the better pressing, and the better of the mind game. Though Dahoud’s sending off was borderline criminal, he was wound up by the opposition and the team paid for it. In a game where Dortmund were already on the ropes due to their injury situation, Gladbach leveraged a perfect game plan to prevent Dortmund from finding rhythm, and benefited greatly from the referee’s view on their antics. It was frustrating to see so many decisions go against our home side, but rising above a foul-heavy game is only one of the many challenges this team will face in the hunt for titles, and even without two star players, there needs to be a sense of unity to accomplish that task. It seemed the players were more affected by their star forwards being away than by the importance of the result.


Your Thoughts?

Moving forward, Dortmund welcome Sporting CP on Tuesday for a UCL clash. Who comes out on top? Let us know below.