Hey, we won! Look at that.
On a cold friday night in Stuttgart, less than a week after dropping a pitiful 4-1 performance against RB Leipzig, BVB rebounded nicely with a 2-0 win courtesy of a brace from Julian Brandt. It wasn’t all brilliant, as Stuttgart had more than enough chances to bring the game level, but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept Stuttgart from scoring and gave BVB the full three points.
Here are my observations:
Injuries continue to wreck this team
Seriously, when is it going to end? Every single week, every single game, players in black and yellow drop to the pitch like flies. It took less than 90 seconds today for BVB’s first injury to strike, when Gio Reyna held up clutching his inner thigh with what appeared to be a hamstring or other muscle injury. Mahmoud Dahoud would come off with what looked like a shoulder injury less than 40 minutes later. At the half, Dan-Axel Zagadou came on for Mats Hummels, who was presumably also injured.
Borussia Dortmund recently announced that they would be parting ways with head trainer Thomas Zetzmann. I ultimately can’t say one way or another whether Zetzmann is responsible in any way for BVB’s injury woes, and there are rumors that there may have been personal reasons involved as well, but it’s clear that the front office recognizes this problem as well.
The substitutes performed pretty well
Even though the injuries to Reyna, Hummels, and Dahoud were frustrating, at the very least their replacements played pretty well. Julian Brandt was a little sloppy at times, but he also notched a brace, so you can’t really ask for more from him. Axel Witsel made a few decent interceptions, and Dan-Axel Zagadou was solid. I especially appreciated his thundering slide tackle that knocked the ball away from Tanguy Coulibaly in the penalty area.
In modern football, depth matters more than almost anything else. Having quality players that can come off the bench in a pitch is such a huge advantage. BVB were actually able to use their depth somewhat effectively today.
A more clinical opponent could have won
Although the scoreline depicts what you’d think would be a pretty straightforward 2-0 victory, the actual performance was far from that relaxing. Although BVB
Amazon’s expected goals model gave Stuttgart the advantage by a slim margin of 1.8-1.7. To me, this pretty accurately reflects the overall balance of play between the two teams, and demonstrates that with a bit more luck, Stuttgart easily could have scratched out a point or three against BVB. A more clinical opponent easily could have vanquished Die Schwarzgelben today.
Just on my memory, there were two grade-A chances that Stuttgart squandered. In the 21st minute, Omar Marmoush found himself in one-on-one against Kobel, but lofted a chip above the net, while in the 61st minute, Pascal Stenzel found himself in acres of space at the top of the box after BVB failed to clear a cross, and blasted a shot over the net. Meanwhile, Borna Sosa curled a beautiful shot late in the match that forced a spectacular diving save from Gregor Kobel.
Much of the issues that plagued the squad today were similar to what we’ve seen over the past few months - full backs who don’t defend (Guerreiro), midfielders who turn the ball over too easily (Dahoud, Brandt, even Bellingham a few times), and a back line that seems too hesitant to clear the ball.
Even though Dortmund won, it’s clear that the squad still has much room to improve. Let’s hope they don’t make the mistakes against Bayern Munich in a few weeks time.
What did you think of today’s game? Let me know your thoughts below.