The stage was perfectly set. Bayern Munich, the title holders, had faltered in dramatic fashion. Dortmund, in pathetic fashion, had shipped an unconscionable five goals to their local rivals Bayer Leverkusen the week before. At Union Berlin, a stadium where Dortmund has failed to win in every meeting since the host's promotion, all signs pointed to another quintessential Black and Yellow blunder.
But then we won.
No one could have foreseen an injury-plagued Dortmund side—arriving with Manuel Akanji at right-back—putting down a marker performance, but Marco Rose’s side managed a confident win at one of the most difficult venues in the league. A doppelpack from Marco Reus and a toe-poke from Raphael Guerreiro put Dortmund in the driver's seat, and VAR saved Dortmund late to allow for a clean sheet as well. All around, it was a fine performance from Die Schwarzgelben, something the team has struggled to consistently produce this season.
Pressure! Pushing Down on Me...
Dortmund’s goals today were the result of some serious relentlessness from the forwards and midfielders. There was a scrappy element to each of the goals, with the resolve of the players involved allowing the Black and Yellows to find the back of the net. Reus’s first goal was the result of exceptional pressure in the opposition box, and his second from Donyell Malen throwing his mind, body, and soul into Benjamin Ozcipka, freeing space for Reus to collect the ball and slot home. Guerreiro and Malen traded toe-pokes to finally nudge the ball home for the third after an excellent effort from Bellingham to keep the ball in play. Dortmund kept the pressure on Union all game, a sharp departure from their apathetic and lackadaisical performance against Leverkusen. Even with numerous starters on the injury table, The team rallied behind a tremendous effort from their captain and clocked in a solid, needed win.
Marco Reus has a double in 25 minutes pic.twitter.com/B8rrAxgBFy— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 13, 2022
Improved Defending and a Clean Sheet
In this week’s edition of Matchday Review from the BVB Youtube team, Raphael Guerreiro was questioned on his thoughts from the Leverkusen match. Guerreiro noted that Marco Rose was angry about the performance of the defense, and discussed how it was something they would all have to work on before even thinking about attack. Against Berlin, the defense looked far more stable, despite still a few shaky moments. Dortmund was lucky that Union did not show the counter-attacking prowess of Bayer Leverkusen, but the backline still managed to hold off several quality attempts at goal. It is worth noting that with Manuel Akanji wedged in at right-back, Dortmund saw a much more conservative defending performance. Akanji did not venture up the right-wing as liberally as Thomas Meunier, and as a result, Dortmund was not so often caught out in possession when the ball was lost. The Fear the Wall team has not minced words this season about the dysfunctional pairing of Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro, two tremendous wing-backs whose attacking competence often comes at the expense of their center backs. Today’s line-up was a force of necessity, but also hopefully an eye-opener for the Dortmund board to clearly show why the go-to strategy has not been working.
Motivation and Outlook
Sean noted in another article (cannot remember which one) that falling behind Bayern further in addition to dropping out of the DfB Pokal could be disastrous for the motivation of Dortmund’s squad in the run-in to the end of the season. Had Bayern not goofed on Saturday, Dortmund would have had the chance to fall to TWELVE points behind in only February. With the title completely gone and only a consolation European Cup to play for, it could have spelled trouble. RB Leipzig is in red hot form under Domenico Tedesco, and Leverkusen showed their UCL credentials against BVB last weekend. Taking the foot off the gas could not only see Dortmund fall further behind Bayern but fall out of the top four altogether. The perfect storm of results this weekend put BVB right back in Bayern’s rearview mirror, and keeping that chase alive is important for Marco Rose and his men right now. The team is in uncertain form, but their chasers in the league most certainly are not.
Did you expect BVB to come away with a win this weekend? When will Reus break the all-time top scorer’s record? Let us know in the comments.