After a year-long hiatus, Schalke and the Revierderby returned to the Bundesliga. Yesterday, Borussia Dortmund welcomed their Gelsenkirchen-based rivals back to the Westfalenstadion and reminded them who was the better side. In a dominant display, Edin Terzic’s men showed a similar resilience they displayed against Manchester City but this time faced a much worse team wearing blue. Despite avoiding the relegation zone this season, Schalke looked out of their depth in Dortmund as the home side displayed one of their best performances of the season. All was not well, however, as Dortmund’s injuries reared their head once more and the team’s striker woes continued. Now, a day after the Revierderby, I’ve broken down my post-match reactions:
Dominance Lacking a Clinical Finisher
Against Schalke, Borussia Dortmund were in complete control for the entire match. Dortmund had 1.8 expected goals compared to Schalke’s 0.07, 67% possession, and boasted 17 total shots compared to Schalke’s 3. This dominance over the flow of the game. however, did not translate into the scoreline as the team scored only one goal. Much like matches against Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin earlier this season, Borussia Dortmund struggled to convert dominance into dividends against Schalke. Similar to those matches, especially the one against Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dortmund was able to make chances but could not finish them. The biggest question surrounding this Dortmund side is how to finish the chances that the team creates. Anthony Modeste, who was brought in to provide goals in the absence of Sebastian Haller, has so far been a miss in this team. His poacher playstyle with limited speed has proven to be ineffective within this Dortmund side. Fortunately, Moukoko answered the need for goals yesterday and scored 15 minutes after coming on. Unfortunately, his second goal of the season puts him only behind the now-injured Marco Reus for top goalscorers on the team. Should Moukoko get more playtime? Probably. Does Dortmund have a goalscoring problem?
Still, despite this goalscoring problem, Dortmund has shown they can be dominant against weaker teams. If they can figure out where the goals come from and continue their dominance in these matches, the club should find the consistency they haven’t had since Klopp.
Another Injury But This One Feels Different.
As everyone probably knows by, Marco Reus suffered another injury in the 32nd minute of yesterday’s game. The club captain rolled his left ankle and was hauled off the pitch in a stretcher. Despite his injury history, Marco Reus’s last long-term injury was 19/20 season where he missed the second half of the season. Since then he’s never missed more than four games in a row and has been one of the team’s most consistent players.
This season has been no different. He is the team’s goalscorer with three goals and the team’s most creative player with three assists. He’s been integral to the attacking ability of the team and continued to be a leader on the field. Now, it looks like Reus might miss a sizable chunk of time. It will be up to guys like Julian Brandt, Gio Reyna, and the rest of the team’s attacking lineup to find the creativity that Marco brings to the side.
The Team is Trending in the Right Direction.
Since the second half of the 2018 season, Favre’s first season at the helm at Dortmund, the team has often struggled when they ran into difficult situations. This season, the team has faced nothing but difficult situations. What was supposed to be ‘the year’ for Dortmund as they brought in talented players such as Nico Schlotterbeck, Sebastian Haller, and Niklas Sule. What has since transpired has been an injury-riddled first month that has seen consistent absences, a collapse vs. Werder Bremen, and a horrorshow against RB Leipzig. Despite these roadblocks, the team continues to improve and respond to the adversity they are faced with. Following a poor match and 3-goal collapse against Bremen, Dortmund produced three consistent games where they did not concede a goal against Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim, and Copenhagen. Following the match against Leipzig, Dortmund produced their best 75 minutes of the season against Manchester City and followed it up with a commanding win against their archrivals. It feels like this team has the resilience to match the challenges they face. Now, it’s just about doing it consistently every minute on the pitch. While every team in the Bundesliga has been slipping, I believe Dortmund’s resilience can propel them to challenge for a title.