I wrote yesterday in my match preview, sarcastically I should add, that I fully expected Borussia Dortmund to come out and steamroll Borussia Mönchengladbach in a relatively meaningless Bundesliga game, only to falter later this week against Rangers FC in the Europa League.
In other words, in no way did I actually think that BVB were going to come out and absolutely pound Gladbach into smithereens, leaving nothing but the smoldering embers of a once great club in their wake. BVB started strong, if defensively shaky in the first half, before coming out with a barrage of goals in the second half.
As the scoreline suggests, it was a dominant performance by Die Schwarzgelben. Here are my observations:
Marco Reus put in an all-time performance
Over the last few weeks, I’ve said some negative things about Marco Reus. After the Rangers match, I expressed my frustration with what I perceived to be his lack of on-pitch leadership.
I still have questions about his leadership abilities, but today Marco showed that when it comes to his own vision, football IQ, and technical ability, fewer in the world are better. Every single touch was brilliant. Every single pass was more pristine and incisive than the last. He finished the game with two goals and three assists, and each contribution was a thing of beauty. My personal favorite was his assist to Donyell Malen, in which he dropped deep to collect a pass and laid a perfect through ball to a cutting Malen, who only had to beat Sommer in a 1-v-1 to score.
Here are all five of his goal contributions:
Kobel was a Difference Maker in the First Half
At the end of the first half, the shot tallies for both sides were exactly the same: six shots total, four on goal apiece. The quality of chances the two clubs generated was also fairly similar, with both squads getting off multiple strong shots from close range. The scoreline, however, favored BVB by the tally of 2-0. That was because Gregor Kobel outdueled his goalkeeping counterpart, making a number of big saves, including a 1-v-1 against Florian Neuhaus.
In the second half BVB really clamped their feet down on Gladbach’s throats, and by the time it was 3-0 the Foals were never going to come back, and as such the result looks lke a total hiding. Make no mistake, though: this game was not a foregone conclusion, and Kobel was a big reason why.
The system bent, but didn’t break
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that today’s performance was a defensive masterclass from BVB. It wasn’t. As I described above, Gladbach generated numerous scoring chances, some of them of very high quality, in the first half. Given the injures to Manuel Akanji and Thomas Meunier before the game, the injury to Dan-Axel Zagadou during the game, and the new setup, I’m still more than happy with the performance. Of course, winning 6-0 will do that.
The formation Marco Rose chose was more or less a 3-4-2-1, with Zagadou, Mats Hummels, and Emre Can starting on the back line with Raphael Guerreiro and Thorgan Hazard as wing backs. Marin Pongracic needed to come on for Zagadou, who was subbed off with an injury in the first half, but otherwise the formation functioned exactly the same.
I liked how the back three performed. It meant that Raphael Guerreiro and Thorgan Hazard had much less defensive responsibility than they would have in a formation with a back four. The three center backs were also able to cover more space, and although Dahoud and Bellingham did leave them exposed on one or two occasions, the fact that there were three of them meant they were better equipped to defend opposition fast breaks.
Can we see this on Thursday, please?
This win was nice. I’m sure everybody reading this who watched it enjoyed it. That being said... Dortmund’s 3-0 win against Union Berlin was also nice, and the club followed it up with a total dud against Rangers last Thursday. This time, the squad really needs to actually use this performance as a springboard. BVB are only down by two goals on aggregate, and they demonstrated today that they’re more than capable of scoring goals in buckets. However, It’s one thing to do it during a relatively meaningless Bundesliga game, and it’s another thing to do it under pressure, at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, in the Europa League knockout stage. Let’s hope the squad brings it on Thursday, or these weekend Bundesliga games will be all we have.
What did you think of today’s match? Leave your thoughts below.