Here I was thinking that Borussia Dortmund might be able to cruise to an easy win to start off a very difficult stretch of matches on a high note. After Die Schwarzgelben largely controlled the play during the first half of today’s match against Steffan Baumgart’s FC Köln, you could have been forgiven for thinking the same. A beautiful Julian Brandt goal had made it 1-0, and the Billy Goats had looked largely toothless in front of Dortmund’s net.
Unfortunately, Köln had other plans. BVB came out in the second half asleep at the wheel, and Baumgart’s men took full advantage. Linton Maina found space behind Thomas Meunier and Karim Adeyemi to dash down the wing unmarked, with plenty of time to shoot in a low cross to find Florian Kainz, who beat Raphael Guerreiro to the ball.
Köln would take the lead moments later when none other than BVB alum Steffen Tigges found the back of the net off a corner kick. The Tigginator managed to charge past the near post, wriggle free of Nico Schlotterbeck, and flick the ball perfectly into the net, earning him as many Bundesliga goals as Anthony Modeste on the season.
With 20 minutes to go, Edin Terzic made a questionable move to bring off Salih Özcan for Youssoufa Moukoko (more on that later). It was a very offense-minded move that left BVB vulnerable at the back. As a result, almost immediately, Dejan Ljubicic found himself at the top of the Dortmund box unmarked and curled a beautiful shot past Alexander Meyer for a goal to make it 3-1, at which point any positive result for BVB looked highly unlikely.
Although a clownish own goal for Köln off a Tom Rothe cross temporarily made the game close, BVB were unable to find an equalizer and the game ended 3-2. Here are the goals:
... and here are my thoughts:
On the Lack of Goals
I understand the concern about BVB’s offense. 10 goals in eight Bundesliga games is a lackluster number by all means. I saw quite a bit of criticism today towards the front office for what could be seen as poor resource management during the summer. I think it’s worth reminding everyone that this was not the plan going into the season: Sebastien Haller was going to be the starter, and Youssoufa Moukoko would back him up. Anthony Modeste was a last-minute emergency purchase who came about because of Haller’s cancer diagnosis. I don’t blame the Front Office for taking immediate action that, unfortunately, hasn’t panned out the way they had hoped. This, combined with the absence of Marco Reus and Gio Reyna, means that the offense today was never going to be at its very best.
Die Schwarzgelben actually haven’t been too bad at generating chances over the last few months. Today, for instance, they both generated more shots and more expected goals than Köln. The problem, as it has been throughout the season, is that the squad’s finishing has been severely lacking. Just today, Donyell Malen had two huge chances that he should have buried, but he sent one right into the keeper and the other careening wide of the net. Thorgan Hazard poked a ball right on the six-yard-line wide when he had a gaping net to aim for. These are players that historically are capable finishers, and I don’t expect them to keep misfiring forever.
That being said...
Moukoko Needs to Start
I’ve just about had it with Anthony Modeste. I’d say he provides nothing in the buildup, but I’d actually prefer that he provide nothing in the buildup, because what he currently does tends to actively make it worse. His touch makes him look like he has concrete in his boot, and he routinely misses easy passes. He doesn’t have the pace to beat... well, anybody, and his only strength, winning headers, doesn’t match the style that BVB are trying to play.
Youssoufa Moukoko is still very rough around the edges, but at least he brings a few different tools to the table. He’s faster than Modeste, he’s better with the ball at his feet, and he’s already proven that he can leap high to score headers. Whenever he’s been on the pitch, he’s proven dangerous. I don’t know what else he needs to do, and how much longer we have to watch Modeste struggle before he starts getting rewarded with starts.
Terzic’s In-game Management
It needs to improve. He’s had more than a few baffling moments this season, but his move today to sub off Salih Özcan, one of BVB’s best players and arguably the squad’s most crucial midfielder, was particularly shocking. The substitution, which came with more than 20 minutes to play, completely unbalanced BVB’s midfield and exposed the back line. It’s no surprise that the ball was in the back of Dortmund’s net less than two minutes later. What made the substitution more confusing was that it left Anthony Modeste, who had spent 70 minutes doing nothing but losing the ball with heavy touches, on the pitch. There was no reason to have two strikers but no defensive midfielders on the pitch with that much of the game remaining, with only a one-goal deficit to overcome.
What did you think of today’s game? What would you change for the upcoming match against Sevilla? Let’s hear your thoughts!