One week ago, Borussia Dortmund came roaring back in the second half of their match against Eintracht Frankfurt, scoring three goals in less than 20 minutes to overcome a two goal deficit and win the game. It was an impressive comeback, but BVB fans everywhere were left with one burning question: would the squad build on the momentum, or would they blow it with an unimpressive follow-up, as the have so often over the past decade? We now have our answer.
BVB were absolutely dominant for the vast majority of today’s game against SC Freiburg, especially in the first half. The hero of the first 45 minutes was Thomas Meunier, who scored two goals off of corner kicks, both assisted by Julian Brandt. Before the first half was over, Erling Haaland would increase Dortmund’s lead to three goals. Although Freiburg temporarily made the match interesting with a goal in the second half, Dortmund managed to score two more goals in the second half to bring the scoreline to a resounding 5-1.
Here are the highlights:
And here are my thoughts:
The same XI, with completely different results
Believe it or not, today’s starting XI was identical to the squad that conceded two goals against Eintracht Frankfurt last week, and looked listless for the first 70 minutes. Today, the squad looked like they were shot out of a cannon, dominating the play virtually from start to finish.
Last week, the formation was rigid and narrow, so Eintracht Frankfurt were able to make BVB’s squad run side to side by effortlessly lobbing passes from one side to another. This week, though, Dortmund took advantage of the wide spaces much better. Look at this setup, and how much room Thomas Meunier has on the right side:
If you look at this setup, it’s easy to see several advantageous situation’s Dortmund could create. Hummels could launch a long ball ahead of an advancing Thomas Meunier, and he would almost immediately create a 2-on-1 situation with him and Brandt.
Now let’s look at the buildup that leads to BVB’s first goal. Freiburg were set up in a defensive 4-4-2, which generally did an okay job of keeping the pressure on BVB’s back four and blocking out Mahmoud Dahoud. However, it did give BVB a man advantage in the center.
As you can see, all Marco Reus had to do was drop a bit deeper from his position at the tip of the diamond to be completely open. Here, Freiburg midfielder Nicolas Höfler has to mark both Julian Brandt and Reus. While he does his best to cover both, Reus finds enough space for Emre Can to hit him with a quick pass. Christian Günter tries to step out of the back line, but it’s too late. Reus is able to dribble in towards the 18 yard box and play a quick pass to Malen, who draws the corner that leads to BVB’s first goal.
It was perfect. If there was wide space available on either side, Malen, Reus, or Brandt would drift into it. If Guerreiro advanced, Bellingham would drop back and cover for him. If any of the four midfielders in the diamond won a ball in midfield, he would immediately have three passing options darting forward. Meanwhile, just by staying forward and threatening any open spaces available, Donyell Malen and Erling Haaland completely neutralized Freiburg’s back line, keeping them hemmed into their own zone.
I may do a tactical breakdown of this game over the weekend, because I have a lot more I could say, but for now I’ll just say that Marco Rose’s plan worked to perfection. It was fluid, it was dynamic, it was everything you want out of a squad. Great work.
Like a total moron, I tweeted out during the game #HappyPieces, not realizing that #GladPieces works so much better. Over the years, BVB have grown a reputation for being particularly mediocre at set pieces, both defensively and offensively. This was not the case today, though. Dortmund scored not one, but TWO set pieces goals in the first half. Both goals came from corners, both were assisted by Julian Brandt, and both were scored by none other than Thomas Meunier. If you had a Thomas Meunier brace on your bingo card, please contact me ASAP with the lotto numbers!
Fun fact: BVB scored 40% of all their Bundesliga goals from corners today.
Why can’t we have nice things
Not to bring you all down, but not everything today was sunshine and rainbows. Borussia Dortmund’s injury situation, specifically, only worsened. Both Emre Can and Thomas Meunier needed to come off, both with apparent muscle injuries. I didn’t catch what afflicted Meunier, but I did see Emre Can clutching his hip flexor in pain. While he played through it for about 20 minutes, he needed to come off at the half for Manuel Akanji.
Hopefully, neither injury is minor, because Dortmund need all the players they can muster right now.
Other than a few more tactical notes that I’d like to get into at a later date, I don’t have much more to say about this match. BVB were dominant from start to finish. I’m so excited to see what this team can do in the Europa League.