If at any time this season you have thought that you understand this team, you were wrong. Understanding this team is impossible. Despite constant struggles and underperformance in the Bundesliga, which has left Borussia Dortmund just outside the top four and at real risk of failing to qualify for the Champions League next season, Dortmund have just finished top of the Champions League “Group of Death”. In a group with Paris Saint-Germain, Newcastle, and AC Milan, BVB came out on top, with three wins, two draws, and one loss.
The second of those draws came last night against PSG. BVB needed to avoid losing to PSG in order to finish top of the group, and despite riding their luck at times, they came away with a vital 1-1 draw. PSG failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities to take the lead in the first half, and Dortmund made them pay when Karim Adeyemi slotted home a pass from Niclas Füllkrug just after the break. For a moment it looked like PSG might be headed out of the Champions League, but a bit of Kylian Mbappé brilliance was finished off by Warren Zaire-Emery, to level the score. Dortmund were a little fortunate not to concede more, over the course of the game, but they got the job done, and now they’ve got a great opportunity to go deep in the Champions League knockout stages.
The Defensive Play of the Year
Kylian Mbappé is really good at football, and at several points in last night’s game we were reminded of this fact. Thanks to some fine margins and some absolutely incredible defending by Niklas Süle, however, Mbappé was unable to do tons of damage. That block from Süle, to keep Mbappé out, was absolutely absurd!
This block from Niklas Sule to deny Kylian Mbappe is quite simply ridiculous pic.twitter.com/JMnir6xb1I— SPORTbible (@sportbible) December 13, 2023
Not only is that surely the best defensive play we will see this year, that is one of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen.
Besides the incredible block, Süle had a pretty good game, and made a case for himself getting more playing time in coming weeks. For all the issues across the squad, we have three excellent center backs, all playing really good football right now.
Terzic Manifesting Draws
Dortmund set up pretty positively last night, and that made for a pleasant surprise. I’m sure many of us expected Dortmund to sit back and try and soak up pressure and see out the game. That has been the Edin Terzic Way far too often this and last season, but BVB gave it a good go last night. They did slow the game down at times, but that was with the intention of drawing PSG’s press and trying to play through it, rather than setting up with the intention of defending and nothing else. It was nice to see!
PSG were the better side overall, but that’s in part due to a) PSG being the team that most needed a result, and b) the fact that PSG have Kylian Mbappé. I think it’s a lot easier to stomach games like this, where Dortmund actually try to play positive football, even when it exposes them to some risk. It’s better to at least go down with a fight, and sometimes, like last night, it works out!
The Kids are (Sometimes) Alright
Dortmund lined up with Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and the much maligned Karim Adeyemi on the wings last night, which seemed like an immediate statement of (positive) intent. Bynoe-Gittens had a relatively quiet night, but I thought Adeyemi played pretty well. He’s caught a lot of heat recently, having struggled so far this season, so it was nice to see him put in a solid performance and get a much-needed goal.
I’m really hoping that this will give him the confidence boost he needs to push on and put together a decent run of form in the second half of the season. I think it is important to remember he’s still a young lad and, while he has struggled, he’s definitely still developing and sometimes some patience is required.
Unfortunately, BVB were not the only ones with talented kids putting in good performances. PSG’s 17-year-old midfielder, Warren Zaire-Emery, was quality throughout the game, and deserved his goal. It’s very selfish of other teams to have good players.
How did you feel about Dortmund’s performance last night, and how far do you think they can go in the Champions League?