In front of 81,365 for the first time on a Champions League night, BVB cruised to success against a hard-working FC Copenhagen side. Copenhagen manager Jess Thorup had clearly set his team up to disrupt Dortmund’s intricate, short passing style of play by starting with three deeper-lying central midfielders, but he was powerless to stop the aggressive, transition-based play that saw us create chances almost at will. Copenhagen were pinned back for the vast majority of the 90 minutes, and their isolated forwards were dealt with by the Dortmund back 4, with Süle and Schlotterbeck particularly impressive. Their only chance of note came from a corner, as Lukas Lerager’s effort was brilliantly saved by second-choice keeper Alexander Meyer, and they had a late goal ruled out by VAR for a fractional offside, Enough about them, though, now; here are my thoughts about us:
Get on the #BrandtWagon
After barely featuring for the first two games of the season, Julian Brandt has been unstoppable. Currently averaging 1 goal contribution per 90 minutes, he has clearly added end product to his elegant and eye-catching style of play. Today, his assist was unreal, and he was tied for the most big chances created (more about that later). Out of possession, his intelligent movement and ability with both feet are a real threat to the opposition, and his link-up play with Reus is sublime. He could even have had a goal, if not for some rather selfish play from Mouki. His defensive work-rate was incredible as well, and he won more tackles than Jude and Schlotterbeck. Brandt has grabbed his chance with both hands, and it would be a war crime to drop him from the starting XI in this form.
Gio is back, baby!
Brandt was tied with another player for most big chances created. The other player? Gio. while he floated in and out of the game for most of the first half, he announced his return to the pitch with a clever assist for Rapha. He was heavily involved throughout the second, grabbing himself another assist (and causing us all minor heart attacks when he went down after a seemingly-innocuous challenge). Like Brandt, he has an eye for open space, and his free-floating role made life very hard for Copenhagen’s defenders. I think our best attacking midfield trio is Brandt-Reus-Gio; while Donny is more direct, and Adeyemi more of a goalscoring threat, Gio’s intelligence off the ball makes this trio really fluid and hard to stop. His ability to find a yard of space and make a key pass are a real asset as well. We have to keep him fit somehow.
Without a striker, we are... fine?
Yes, we do have Tony, but the team relies on his work-rate, strength and aerial ability more than they do on his ability to score goals. The lack of a traditional goalscorer has (counterintuitively) improved the team going forward, as we aren’t really forced to play a certain style to feed a striker; instead, we’ve become a fluid offensive unit that contains several potential goalscorers, making us incredibly unpredictable. BVB haven’t scored tons of goals so far this season, but the team is looking increasingly dangerous with the additions of Jule and Gio. The goals will start to flow, sooner rather than later.
Everyone is injured
For the love of all that is black and yellow, can we please stop this. Hazard was subbed off injured today. Mo is injured, JBG is injured, Kobel is injured. Adeyemi? Injured. Morey and Malen? you guessed it. Haller? Let’s not even go there. Even our stadium announcer is injured. Are we cursed?
What did you make of our first UCL game of the season? Do you have any curse-reversing techniques we could use? Fire away in the comments!