In a perfect world, today’s match in the DFB Pokal between Borussia Dortmund and Hannover would have gone much differently. A club like BVB, which normally aspires to compete for the Champions League and the Bundesliga title, should have no trouble beating a 2. Bundesliga club like Hannover 96.
Unfortunately, today’s win would not come easily for Die Schwarzgelben, and Hannover ended up being a much more difficult opponent than fans would have expected. Many of the problems that plagued Borussia Dortmund on Sunday against Union Berlin re-emerged today against Hannover. The back line looked particularly vulnerable, the full-backs struggled to manage the pressure applied to them, and Emre Can and Salih Özcan struggled to maintain possession through the middle of the pitch.
If anything, Youssoufa Moukoko’s goal to open the scoring was against the run of play. Dortmund spent much of the first half on the back foot, with Hannover hovering in and around the Dortmund 18-yard-box. Moukoko’s goal came from a lucky break. After some good work by Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard to get the ball to Moukoko, he took a shot from a wide angle that really had no business going into the net, but it deflected off of Hannover’s defender and wiggled between goalkeeper Leo Weinkauf and the post.
Dortmund looked less shaky in the second half, partly because Edin Terzic made positive substitutions with Jude Bellingham, Gio Reyna, and Karim Adeyemi, and partly because Hannover began to tire from maintaining such a high press. In the 70th minute, Gio Reyna made a terrific dash through midfield, dodging and bodying off Hannover’s midfielders before playing in Jude Bellingham, who was taken out by a defender and awarded a penalty kick, which he proceeded to convert.
It was not a pretty game by any standard. Although Dortmund did end up out-shooting and out-chancing Hannover over the full 90 minutes, they looked on the ropes for much of the first ~60 minutes and needed reinforcements from their young guns to right the ship. Here are the highlights:
... and here are my thoughts:
- Take a bow, Gregor Kobel! Talk about a changed man! I don’t think I’ve seen two performances so diametrically opposed from the same player in such a short time frame in my entire life. After Gregor Kobel made one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever seen on Sunday and generally played one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a BVB goalkeeper, he came out today and looked like a completely different player. He was a man on a mission. Every single ball that came his way, whether it was through a maze of players, from up-close, over a wall, struck hard, struck softly, headed, or kicked, Kobel was there to play it perfectly. He barely put a toe wrong the entire game, stopping all seven shots on goal that came his way, and handled every cross and pass under pressure with supreme coolness. He even managed to survive a fan streaking onto the pitch and almost breaking his ankles.
- Gio Reyna looked superb when he was subbed on. He basically created the play that led to Jude Bellingham’s penalty, was constantly a threat with the ball at his feet, and could have had an assist or two. He honestly looked the most dangerous of BVB’s forwards.
- Karim Adeyemi was sent off in the 85th minute for bringing down Hannover forward Derrick Köhn, who was in one-on-one with Kobel. Given the scoreline and the dwindling time remaining, I would have liked to see Adeyemi put pressure on Köhn without committing a foul, and trusting Kobel to make a save. Now Adeyemi will miss at least one game with a suspension.
What did you think of this afternoon’s game? Let me hear your thoughts below!