Borussia Dortmund leaves the Black Forrest at the summit of the table, recording a convincing 3-1 scoreline after taking on Freiburg during Matchday 2. However, the team’s performance on the pitch was anything but convincing as BVB played the majority of the match on the back foot.
The first 75 minutes of today’s match were reminiscent of Dortmund’s struggles the past two seasons and serve as a reminder that the club is still addressing problems. Despite an even first 30 minutes, Freiburg would quickly increase the intensity. Former Dortmund player Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch in the box who nodded in the first goal of the game. Ginter was able to head the ball across to Gregoritsch despite being marked by three Dortmund players. Gregoritsch finished with a lovely looping header over Kobel and Dortmund was down 1-0.
At this point, most Dortmund fans received a volley of flashbacks from the past two seasons as the team’s energy completely collapsed. Dortmund’s midfield was overrun with Dahoud and Bellingham struggling to control possession. Dahoud especially was the target of Freiburg’s press as he was tasked with playing the ball out of the back. Up front, Dortmund’s attacking players struggled as debutant Anthony Modeste showcased how he should only be relied on for end product. Despite having one or two modest chances at goal, Modeste failed to convert and was quiet during buildup play. Thorgan Hazard and Donyell Malen seemed equally lost throughout the majority of their stints on the field.
A host of substitutes and a lucky goal, however, saw the flow of the game change and Dortmund surged ahead. Terzic made personnel changes with Marius Wolf, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Youssoufa Moukoko, and Julian Brandt being introduced in the 46th, 64th, 70th, and 76th minutes respectively. Each sub would end the game with some sort of goal involvement. The first was Jamie Bynoe-Gittens who, in the 76th minute, received an otherwise harmless pass from Moukoko and blasted towards the keeper from 25 yards out. Fortunately for Dortmund, Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken completely botched it and let the ball flip over him after the initial save. It was a lot of fortune for Dortmund but the team then pressed their advantage.
Less than 10 minutes later Jamie Bynoe-Gittens dribbled towards the box and laid off a neat pass to fellow substitute Julian Brandt. Brandt completed a nice one-touch pass to Moukoko who finished off the play with a first-time finish. This was easily Dortmund’s best goal of the match and showcased the dribbling of Gittens, who did a lot of work to create this goal. The maneuver was a statement by Moukoko to showcase, demonstrating his dependability despite the signing of Modeste. Finally, Marius Wolf killed the game in the 88th minute as he cut in off the left side and finished inside the box.
Despite playing poorly for the majority of the game, this was an important win for the team. In previous seasons, Dortmund tended to wither and give up at moments like these but this time they kept pushing for a result. Terzic also showed a willingness to change tactics when things aren’t going his way, including bringing on young talents such as Moukoko or Bynoe-Gittens. Last season it felt like Rose struggled to impact games with his changes when the team was performing poorly. Terzic, on the other hand, has so far proven differently. Finally, a win in Freiburg is an important victory for this team. We haven’t won in Freiburg since early 2019 and were able to leave with three points despite a hard game. There’s no doubt that Dortmund had two of the hardest games to start this season but remains undefeated. Hopefully, that streak continues against Bremen.
My Miscellaneous Thoughts:
- I have hesitations about Modeste playing alongside Malen and Hazard. I do not think Malen and Hazard are creative enough to supply Modeste with the chances he needs to score. Instead, Modeste was isolated for most of the game and seemed to be waiting for crosses from wingers who prefer not to cross. That being said, it’s his first game so of course, we should give him patience.
- A midfield of Reus, Bellingham, and Dahoud is not going to cut it in big games. Last season it became apparent that Dortmund needed a #6 who can shelter the defense and provide cover for the fullbacks. Dahoud is great at progressing the ball, but asking him to defend the entire backline is too much. It will be interesting to see which of them is dropped when Ozcan starts to play.
- I am not convinced by Thorgan Hazard. He hasn’t impressed me in over a season and does not reliably produce opportunities for the team. It seems like a lot of Dortmund’s attacking threat is going to come from the younger players like Adeyemi, Bynoe-Gittens, and hopefully Malen.
- The kids can play! Dortmund got younger this past offseason but it became apparent that the young guys are stepping up to play. I can’t wait to see more of Gittens, Moukoko, Bellingham, and potentially Reyna.
What are your takeaways from today’s game? Let me know your thoughts below.