After watching a drab performance in the weekend’s 1-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach, followed by reports that half the squad were not training, there was plenty of apprehension going into tonight’s game. Fortunately, any concerns seemed to be overblown, as Borussia Dortmund fielded a pretty strong side to face Sporting Lisbon, and they played pretty well too.
The finishing was a little lackluster, but otherwise, I was pretty pleased with the effort. BVB now go second in their group, just behind Ajax on goal difference. With Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas on zero points, that takes a little pressure off Dortmund going into their game against Ajax. It’s as good a start as they could have hoped for in the Champions League!
Here’s my nominations for tonight’s Man of the Match.
He’s had a bit of a rough start to life as a BVB player, and Haaland picking up an injury piled even more pressure on him. You could see that pressure weighing on him in the first half hour. He was snatching at chances and trying to force things a little too much. It was starting to look like it might be another scoreless night for Malen, only adding to the pressure on him. Until 37 minutes into the game, when Bellingham slipped him through on goal, with a pretty tight angle to shoot at, but he made it anyway. No one needed that goal more than Malen, and I’m very happy for him.
It wasn’t a stunning display after that goal, but you could see the weight lifted. He played with a little more freedom, and looked much better for it.
It was sad to see Mo Dahoud go down, not only because it’s never nice to see a player hurt, but also because BVB really needed him. But that opened up an opportunity for Julian Brandt, who has been struggling for form for some time now. I thought he played really well. Hopefully we gt to see a little more of this Brandt in the coming weeks.
He picked up the assist and he was busy both in and out of possession. At this point he is BVB’s spine, and he is EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD!
He also took a moment to congratulate everyone after the Malen goal. He’s a leader.
I was tempted to give this last nomination to Thomas Meunier, but I really can’t tell if I would be doing it for the memes or because he genuinely deserved it. Anyway, I decided to give it to another defender that has been rock solid all season long. Akanji barely put a foot wrong and he was consistently progressing the ball into dangerous areas with some lovely distribution.
Sometimes it’s hard to pick out the last nomination not because everyone else was bad, but because there wasn’t a clear standout. In those moments, it’s good to give it to a solid but unsung performer!
Who was your Man of the Match?
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