In another must-win match, Dortmund held on for victory against a dogged Hoffenheim side. The final game before the international break gave the Black and Yellows the chance to right the ship after a midweek loss to St. Pauli and keep their Bundesliga push on pace. While Bayern is showing no signs of slowing down, Dortmund needs to keep the gap close to having any chance of getting back into the title chase.
Hoffenheim came into this game in fourth place, and for good reason. The Sinsheim team have been biding their time in the Bundesliga for several seasons, waiting to return to the type of threatening position that got them into the Champions League a few years ago. Andre Kramaric has been clinical, while Georginio Rutter and Ilhas Bebhou provide all the support he needs to take his chances. Today they worked the Dortmund defense for all it was worth, which again proved to not be much. Dortmund was lucky to get away with a win.
What is Marco Rose Going to do about this Defense?
For the third game in four outings, the Dortmund defense has been overrun on the wings, out-muscled in the box, and generally dysfunctional. Marco Rose should count himself extremely lucky to have collected nine points while his team allowed five goals into their own net. If Erling Haaland is carrying an injury from today’s game, the current trajectory will end in disaster without the Norwegian’s goals. Once again, I would like to advocate for a return to a back five. I invite you all the put me on blast in the comments but the fact is, Dortmund’s available fullbacks cannot keep their Bundesliga opposition at bay, and the way to expose the BVB flanks is being passed around the league like a middle school secret. Look at the parallels between St. Pauli’s goal on Tuesday and Hoffeheim’s opener today.
Guerreiro cannot keep his side of the field quiet, and it is forcing other players to leave their positions to provide cover. Meunier is good enough to keep the right side composed, but he has shown that his influence on the attacking side of the ball can bring as much value as Guerreiro. Lucien Favre saw this, and it extended his precarious Dortmund tenure by almost a year. It is time to work hard in training, try something new, and accept that continuing to jam the square peg into the round hole will not win Dortmund any silverware this year.
Goal Scoring Methods, and the Man Malen
Today, Dortmund found the back of the net with quick ball movement and incisive passing. In both cases, Donyell Malen had the vision to play the critical final ball that gave his teammates and golden opportunity to score. It feels that Dortmund has stopped scoring at pace this season, with teams realizing that body marking Haaland keeps him from searing unopposed toward their goal. Without that specific play, Dortmund has been forced to slowly swing the ball around the top of the box and has been poor at keeping it in their possession while doing so. It was refreshing to see Malen’s vision and creativity on display (instead of wasteful cutbacks), as this gave Dortmund the platform to win the game.
Here we are again... one of these. After a month where several players were welcomed back from the injury table, BVB will now send those same players off to be run through a meat grinder, or a wood chipper, or whatever it is they do to these guys on international break. Fortunately, Gio Reyna will be able to finish his rehabilitation in Dortmund, but head coach Marco Rose will be sweating over the fitness of his players who are coming off of three matches in eight games. Now, they will link up with their fellow countrymen to have their ACLs torn and their shoulders dislocated. I pray only that a meager eleven of them may return from battle so that BVB at least will not be forced to forfeit the rest of the season.