After thirty minutes, things were looking bleak. Borussia Mönchengladbach were up 2-0 and Dortmund looked completely out of sync. It was shaping up to be one of those matches that gets coaches fired. Then, miraculously and seemingly out of nowhere, BVB completely flipped the script, scoring three goals in a manner of minutes to take the lead and potentially save both the club’s season and even Edin Terzic’s job.
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s first goal was easy; too easy. Alassane Pléa dropped deep into midfield, and despite standing mere yards away from both Julian Brandt and Emre Can, was able to receive a pass from Maximilian Wöber, spin, and fire a pinpoint through ball to Rocco Reitz, who beat the offside trap and buried a simple finish past Gregor Kobel. It should set off alarms in Dortmund’s camp that the midfield was able to be dissected so easily with only two passes. Minutes later, Pléa would hit the back of the net on a nearly identical play, but thankfully he was played in ever-so-slightly offside.
In the 28th minute, things went from bad to worse. BVB failed to clear a cross that bounced around in the box and fell to the feet of Manu Koné, who brought the ball down, dribbled around at least three BVB defenders, and then smashed a shot into the corner that Kobel had no chance at stopping. As much as I hate to admit it, it was a lovely goal.
At this point, I thought that Borussia Dortmund were down for the count, and that the squad was in danger of falling apart completely. 5-0 and 6-0 scorelines were flashing through my imagination. Luckily, the unexpected happened: with a quick burst of effort, and courtesy of a little luck, Dortmund managed to respond. Julian Brandt, in possession on the wing, looped a long cross over the heads of every Gladbach defender and fell right to Marcel Sabitzer, who buried his chance.
I believe this was a massively critical goal. At 2-0, BVB were in danger of collapsing, but they scored so quickly after Koné’s belter that they barely had any time to feel bad for themselves or let their heads dip. Sabitzer’s response gave them confidence and momentum, which they would capitalize on merely two minutes later. This was just an exceptional play by Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, who chested down a long ball from Bensebaini into the path of Niclas Füllkrug, who used an expert outside-of-the-boot shot to chip the ball over Moritz Nicolas. BVB would compete the comeback before the half, with Marco Reus creating a turnover with a pressure and Niclas Füllkrug laying the ball to Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, who gave BVB the lead with a pinpoint shot that froze Nicolas and bounded into the corner.
With a new lead and Gladbach looking dejected, BVB went on to dominate the remaining sixty minutes. While Dortmund would not find an insurance goal until deep into stoppage time, Die Fohlen never looked likely to equalize. Here are my observations:
Apparently, Confidence is Everything
I really can’t oversell how much everything changed when Marcel Sabitzer scored. Understat’s timing chart does well to demonstrate the change in momentum around the 30th minute:
By the end of the match, Dortmund thoroughly deserved the win, outshooting Gladbach 23-10 and with an xG line of 3.37-0.79. As much as “mentality” can be used as a cliché, it appears that confidence did play a substantial factor in Dortmund’s performance today. Being down 2-0 could have been a nail in the coffin not only of the match, but of the season, yet Sabitzer’s goal out of relative nothingness proved to be the spark the squad needed to get their heads together. Hopefully this win serves as a similar spark on a much larger scale for the season.
Marco Reus Dazzles in the Buildup, but Not in Front of Goal
I thought Reus was a clear candidate for man of the match. He led the team with four shots, including a gorgeous free kick that bounced just off the inside of the crossbar. He was also involved in the buildup play of two of Dortmund’s three goals. Unfortunately, his touch in front of goal continues to elude him, so he did not find the scoresheet, despite getting into a 1-v-1 against Nicholas on one occasion, and having a heavy touch betray him in front of Gladbach’s goal on another. Marco’s finishing has been a minor problem for a few years now, but hopefully he can find a way to turn it around, because if he could bury even half of the quality chances he’s creating for himself, he could find himself having a career year.
JBG on Fire
This was Jamie Bynoe-Gittens’ best performance in black-and-yellow. Obviously, notching a goal and an assist is massive, but he also seemed incredibly poised in his decision making, something that he’s received criticism for earlier in the year. The way he brought Bensebaini’s long ball down to assist Füllkrug was perfect, and his goal was an expert finish. With Donyell Malen struggling and Karim Adeyemi injured (and struggling), hopefully JBG’s form can help dull the pain, and maybe he can even carve out a role in the starting XI!
What did you think of BVB’s performance today? Should the slow start be a cause for concern? Let me know your thoughts!