It looked like a chilly night in Milan as Dortmund battled out a crucial match in their Champions League campaign. A win would secure advancement in the competition and Dortmund delivered on the road. AC Milan is a team that has been as inconsistent as Dortmund this season so I wasn't sure what to expect, but BVB showed they were the stronger side over 180 minutes. Here’s my immediate reaction.
Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are Carrying the Team
This is a compliment to our veteran players but concerning when thinking of future seasons. Both Marco Reus and Mats Hummels have maintained importance in Edin Terzic’s Dortmund and continue to be placed in the starting XI, deservedly so. Marco Reus scored a mature spot-kick and created a brilliant assist for Adeyemi’s goal. Hummels on the other hand, won 13 of 14 ground-duels, cleared the ball nine times and his passing accuracy was 94%, including seven long-balls. It shouldn't be a question to anyone why Hummels is back in the German National Team.
I Don’t Always Understand Terzicball
And that’s okay. I expected Julian Brandt and Gio Reyna in the second half but we got Karim Adeyemi and Marius Wolf. And while we did see Brandt replace Reus much later, I was confused as to why Terzic would be giving the nod to two struggling players when there is in-form talent on the bench and this was such an important game. Yet Karim Adeyemi surprised me with his cheeky play and excellent work-rate. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him look so focused on the pitch, and he deserved his goal. I could see what it meant to him in the celebration as it’s clear he’s been working hard to improve his form. Let’s hope this acts as a confidence boost to build on in the coming weeks. I’m not sure Wolf did anything noteworthy, however.
Jamie Bynoe-Gittens is Dortmund’s Next Big Talent
That’s two goals in two starts from the English teenager and I couldn't be happier. While I’ve criticized JBG in the past for his hot-and-cold performances, I think now we’re seeing consistency. While aspects of his game still need improvement, such as passing and decision-making in the final third, his footwork looks beautiful and he finds space on the wing more times than not. With Dortmund seeming to lack traditional wingers at the moment, JBG may find a regular starting position within Terzic’s squad. Perhaps he already has.
BVB Defended Against a Strong Attack
Milan’s front three consisted of Christian Pulisic, Chukwueze and Olivier Giroud, each of whome looked to be in form today. Chukweze’s goal was very impressive and we have to give him credit for that. But we also need to give credit to Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Bensebaini and Ryerson as they defended against long periods of sustained pressure. Giroud didn't take a bad Penalty Shot, but rather Gregor Kobel made a great Penalty save. Luka Jokic was introduced late and added an additional attacking threat, but Dortmund maintained control and saw this game to the finish line.
This is an Important Win
Not only has BVB qualified for the last-16 of the Champion’s League, but this win also kicks off a brutal run of fixtures including a trip to Leverkusen this weekend, a trip to Stuttgart in the German Cup next week, and matches against Leipzig and PSG the following week. Dortmund need this kind of momentum if they hope to take anything away from Leverkusen this weekend. The matches in this stretch could make or break the season in some ways so any confidence boost Dortmund can maintain will be important moving forward.
What did you think of this match?
What position should Terzic focus on strengthening in the winter?