A very professional display saw Dortmund grab all three points when TSG Hoffenheim visited the Westfalenstadion on Friday night, beating Die Kraichgauer 1-0, thanks to a Marco Reus goal early in the first half. Not only did they claim all three points, our boys in black and yellow managed to keep yet another clean sheet and held Hoffenheim to an xG of just 0.5. Dortmund dominated the first half, before showing discipline and determination to keep up the performance when Hoffenheim came on strong in the second half.
The three points takes BVB to the top of the Bundesliga table, at least until Saturday afternoon when Union Berlin host Bayern Munich, where a winner will leapfrog Borussia Dortmund to go into first place.
I wanna take the opportunity in this post match commentary to comment on a buzzword I saw reflected in the today’s performance: maturity. More on that below.
First Half: An Impressive Performance
The first 45 minutes of this game is some of the best football BVB have played this season. Every player seemed willing to make runs to open up space, and everyone got stuck in. Over a stretch of just ten minutes, I witnessed Marco Reus, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Julian Brandt and Anthony Modeste all track back to collect the ball in their own half. These things may not always directly lead to something positive, but it’s certainly a sign that our players are willing to run and work as a unit. A certain Julian Brandt also had one of his one-in-ten good performances, capped off with a very neat one-touch assist for captain Marco Reus.
Despite only scoring one goal, the team were in control for the entire half, only letting Hoffenheim get a few half chances that didn’t seem to trouble the backline or Gregor Kobel.
Second Half: BVB’s Maturity Shows
When Terzic was reinstated as head coach, in one if his first interviews, he spoke about maturity, and how important it is in order to win games. I think this maturity showed today, and even if the scoreline was only 1-0, it was, in my opinion, a convincing win, which was also reflected by the xG (2.5 vs. 0.5).
BVB have a knack for letting go as soon as they score a goal, but today they at least managed to keep pushing until the 80th minute. Die Schwarzgelben are clearly at their best when they actually get to play the fast and fluent football they’re known for, and they weren’t as impatient in their play as they have been in multiple other games this season. Many teams can play good football for one half, but to continuously do it 90 minutes requires - you guessed it - maturity.
The on-pitch maturity is clearly a product of the players on it, and in this regard, Sebastian Kehl has absolutely nailed it. We started with Kobel, and we have now added Özcan and Schlotterbeck with similar attributes. Both are showing a lot of maturity in both play and body language. Our dear Jude Bellingham also seems to mature by the week, and I really do believe this to be all important if we want to produce consistent results throughout the season.
As for how I believe this maturity showed on the field:
- No one at any point seemed frustrated, and no one was flailing their arms around in a Cristiano-esque fashion, even though a teammate misplaced a pass or got dispossessed.
- The midfield and backline were very well organized through the entire game. People stuck to their tasks, and were rewarded accordingly with a clean sheet.
- The team wasn’t as impatient in possession as has been the case in previous games this season. It seemed that everyone was more focused on getting the ball under control, and when they had passing sequences in the opposing half, they were usually pretty good at gaining something from them (a shooting opportunity, a great cross etc.).
Even though this wasn’t the most flashy game, I still think there’s a lot to take away from it. If we are to have any chance of challenging Bayern Munich this season, we’ll need the performances to be at least as mature as they were today. I’ve noticed that it is a growing tendency within the squad, having already collected several close but disciplined victories this season. Discipline and maturity are both core values for any elite football club, and even though BVB have lacked it for quite some time, I saw glimpses of it today, and I believe it will be key for their ability to achieve domestic and international success in both the short- and long-term.
No, BVB don’t play perfect football - and there’s still quite a way to go. But the team’s clearly showing improvement in both mentality and discipline. Hoffenheim is by no means a bad team, and winning against them in what I believe to be convincing fashion (despite the scoreline) is hopefully a good sign of things to come. Some people might not agree with the following statement, but I personally think that this is the best game we’ve played this season.
Enjoy your weekend - and Heja BVB.