In a match that Borussia Dortmund desperately needed to win to have any hope of staying alive in the Champions League, Edin Terzic’s squad went toe-to-toe against a very strong Newcastle side in one of the most hostile away environments in Europe, in harsh northern England weather, and grinded out a grueling 1-0 win.
While some performances were better than others, almost every player left nothing on the pitch, in what was at first a thrilling back-and-forth that eventually devolved to a tooth-and-nail fight for survival. In the end, with strong defensive play and a few bailouts by the crossbar, Dortmund held on to win.
Here are our ratings for Wednesday’s match:
Kobel made three saves on shots with a total of 1.0 post-shot expected goals, so he is just as responsible for the 1-0 win as any other player. He was also a commanding presence in his own box.
World class saves. On demand. Gregor Kobel.
Bensebaini was tasked with defending elite players like Miguel Almiron, Aleksander Isak (before his injury), and Callum Wilson, and barely put a foot wrong.
This was the type of performance from Schlottigott that has BVB fans heralding him as a possible future captain and club cornerstone. Not only did he notch an assist, and a lovely one at that, but he was a defensive anchor and was calm in possession despite being repeatedly pressed by Newcastle.
A rare 10, but I think Schlotterbeck earned it last night. The game was split into two acts — the first hour, which was a chaotic whirlwind of two teams trying to hit the other in transition, of which BVB came out on top; and the final half hour, which saw Newcastle take over and do everything they could to try and get something out of the game — Schlotterbeck was massive in both acts.
A pretty solid defensive effort from Hummels.
I would have liked to see more from Wolf going forward, but he defended well.
He took his goal well, so in a sense he had a strong performance, but I thought he was a little quiet outside of that, and he
Gets half a point for a lovely goal, and was solid enough throughout.
Hopefully his injury isn’t serious.
Sabitzer created a great chance for Donyell Malen with a clever cutback pass that forced not one, but two strong saves from Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope.
If not for Nmecha’s goal, Sabi would have been my top-rated midfielder. Diligent out of possession and creative on the ball, he was the complete package today.
Reus gave a really good 60 minutes of football, dictating a lot of BVB’s offense, including acting as the link for Schlotterbeck’s wonderful assist to Nmecha. Came off just as things were starting to turn in Newcastle’s favour, but I don’t think the old boy would have had the legs for that last half hour anyway.
Reus was vital in Dortmund coming away with a lead from that first hour of football, and that was more than enough.
Marco Reus proves week-in week-out that football is a very simple game if you are a very intelligent footballer. Fine wine.
Malen’s numbers last night, which Paul describes below, were absolutely bonkers. While he didn’t end up on the scoresheet he was all over the pitch and created tons of chances. If he keeps plugging away, the goals and assists will come.
Malen served as Dortmund’s main source for ball progression, making a number of quick breaks when countering Newcastle’s counters, while also managing to act as Dortmund’s primary threat in and around the box. He led the team in both progressive passes and carries, and was just behind Reus for progressive receptions, all while leading the team for touches in the penalty area and touches in the final third, and putting up a total of 0.9 xG on the night (which was 0.3 higher than Füllkrug in second).
I thought Malen was arguably Dortmund’s best player in the first half, and he only missed out on a 9 from me because I thought he tailed off down the stretch, before being subbed off. UEFA opted for Malen as their Man of the Match, and that was met by some scoffing from BVB fans. He wouldn’t have been my pick, but he was definitely right up there, and the only reason I’d go with Schlotterbeck and Kobel over him is because of the huge efforts both made to hold on to all three points in the final half hour.
Tough one to rate, this. I’d give Malen a 10 for effort and off-ball movement, but an unsurprising zero for end product. A promising but wasteful performance; he’s just got to hold his composure and pick his moment to shoot a bit better. Had he put even one of his chances away, I’d have felt inclined to give him a much higher rating, but that’s the life of a forward, I guess.
Pretty quiet, with his most notable contribution being a very glaring turnover that almost cost BVB a goal against.
Big fan of this redemption arc. Long may it continue.
Adeyemi is in a funk. He seems to be trying to do everything himself, including attempting dribbles and take-ons that are probably unlikely to succeed, rather than trying to combine with his teammates. Yesterday was no exception.
Adeyemi did some solid stuff but came into a game that was never going to be an opportunity for him to play his way in to form. He was on the pitch to use his pace to peg Newcastle back. He did a fine job of that.
Brought on to provide speed and energy, and he pretty much did that. Looked rather isolated.
What a massive win, that might just have resurrected the club’s chances at making it out of the group stage. The first half was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, with BVB more than matching Newcastle blow-for-blow, and with a brilliant play from Schlotterbeck and Nmecha breaking the deadlock. Dortmund then defended resolutely for the final 30 minutes, and while things got a little shaky a few times (with big help from the crossbar!) the club never broke.
Prior to last night’s Champions League fixture, I felt like some fans were underrating Newcastle a little. This Newcastle side are very, very good, and have an argument for being the best team in the Premier League so far this season. I think Newcastle are running hot right now, but even when they cool off a bit, they will still be a threat to anyone.
In that context, I think Dortmund’s performance last night was phenomenal. BVB showed up at a ravenous St. James Park and took on a legitimately good team, and they more than matched them. Not only were Dortmund very effective in their attempts to exploit Newcastle’s weaknesses in the first hour of the game, when Newcastle eventually took over in the last half hour, Dortmund did a brilliant job of holding on to their lead.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. “A Terzic Masterclass” would probably be an unpopular headline, but he got his tactics and subs spot on today; despite the raucous home support, Newcastle made precious little for the majority of the game, thanks to our changed shape that saw Reus playing as something of a false winger, dropping into the middle of the pitch and creating a central overload Newcastle largely struggled to play through. Despite our relative lack of pace up front (with Donny the only quick attacker in the lineup), we were able to generate threatening counters through intelligent and conscientious pressing, allowing us to break in large numbers when Newcastle were forced to give the ball away. We let Newcastle have more of the ball, but our suffocation of the central area meant that when they played through the middle, they struggled to maintain possession; this forced them to play wide, where we could then mop up and counter.
I was very worried when it was reported that Brandt, who has been our most creative player this season, wouldn’t be available, but I guess I needn’t have been stressed. Today’s XI featured bags of experience, with only three players under the age of 25. Today was about leadership, and this squad has leaders by the dozen: Emre, Mats, Reus, Greg and Schlotti all started. Edin Terzic’s Schwarzgelben have been accused of straying from the path of “sexy” football, and today was yet another display of maturity and composure that suggested that the team are really beginning to come together. To go to Tyneside and come away with three points from a red-hot Sports
Direct Washing FC is no mean feat, especially with the amazing atmosphere and awful weather. As it stands, we’re back in the running for qualification to the knockouts, now on to Frankfurt!