Dortmund came into today’s away trip to the Fuggerstadt knowing full well that three points against a resurgent Augsburg would be the only acceptable outcome. Unfortunately, the boys started the game sloppily, giving the ball away cheaply on several occasions. Our inability to hang onto the ball was finally punished on 23 minutes, with Augsburg captain Ermedin Demirović shrugging off Schlotti and slotting home. Less than a quarter of an hour later, though, we levelled out of the blue, with Fülle showing his quality yet again to find an onrushing Malen, who found the bottom corner with a lovely finish. That was all the game had in store for us in terms of goals, though, as we continued to do battle with a team we should really have been cruising past. A late flurry of shots aside, BVB put in a rather drab display, though were perhaps unlucky not to come away with the win as Fülle saw his acrobatic effort saved incredibly by Augsburg ‘keeper Finn Dahmen. Here are some post-match thoughts after this disappointment:
Neither Sexy, Nor Successful Football
Terzic’s comment about wanting his team to play less sexy and more successful football created something of a misleading dichotomy; it is possible to play football that is both sexy and successful. However, today’s display was neither, as the vast majority of what was a rather disjointed game played in the middle third of the pitch. Terzic set up the team in a similar shape to the game in Paris, with two creative midfielders in Brandt and Reus playing ahead of the more defensive Can in a staggered central three. Unlike in Paris, though, this didn’t work, as Augsburg’s compact defensive shape plus our inverting wingers crowded the middle and restricted passing options. While FotMob has our xG at 2.78 (to Augsburg’s 1.74), the majority of it came in a frantic final 15 minutes as we struggled to create much for large stretches of the 90+ minutes. The game was neither sexy, as the game lacked any slickness; nor successful, as we allowed Augsburg fourteen shots inside our own box and came away with a draw, extending our league winless run to three games.
Wide Players Remain Something of an Issue
As has been widely noted by now, judging Donny Malen as a winger is nigh-on impossible; he’s clearly more suited to playing off a traditional central striker, as he has shown in his combinations with Fülle this season. While he lacks creative skills, his ability to move intelligently off the ball can make him a real threat if used correctly. Yet again today, he looked at his best (and scored a superb goal) when our big German was playing the role of foil striker, holding up play and laying the ball off. However, the fact that he isn’t well-suited to the wing role meant that there was extra creative onus on JBG and a lot more defensive pressure on Bens (who was playing behind him). Bens was not bad today, but his lack of mobility was exposed on several occasions by the rapid Mbabu, who ideally would’ve been covered by a retreating winger. This difficulty was compounded by our choice to play without a second screening midfielder, which meant that Brandt was handed an unfamiliar (and unenviable) defensive mandate.
On the other wing, JBG really struggled to get to grips with Augsburg’s disciplined defensive shape; for players to whom quick combination football doesn’t seem to come naturally, compact defensive lines that sit off and invite dribblers into overloaded situations are kryptonite. He was unlucky not to get an assist after Brandt blazed over his clever cutback, but other than that, today his game amounted to little more than cheap possession losses, and his desire to have the ball played short into his feet (rather than attempting to stretch the play with runs wide/in behind) made for less fluidity in possession. The poor guy looked a little tired, unsurprisingly, as he’d put in a real shift against PSG less than three days ago, and it’s probably unreasonable to expect the same level of energy from a 19 year old given the lack of recovery time.
Fülle. That’s it.
There was a lot of moaning about us signing Füllkrug in the dying embers of the transfer window, but the veteran German has been nothing short of game-changing for us. Seven goal contributions in his last eight games is nothing to sniff at, and it’s so clear to see that he’s an excellent all-round forward who offers a lot both in and out of possession, with intelligent runs, good link-up/hold-up play and work rate, and great composure. Today was no different, as he got himself a neat assist and nearly scored an unreal volley right at the end in a display of typical maturity. Haller’s drop-off gave him the opportunity to shine, and it’s fair to say he’s grabbed it with both hands.
- Samuel Bamba made his first appearance for the senior side today, replacing JBG in the 72nd, and caused some chaos with his hard work and desire. Congratulations to him!
- Bens continues to struggle against more mobile wingers when he isn’t covered by a winger or DM. Even on days where his performance levels are good, he’s liable to be toasted by quicker players.
- Meunier returned to the XI, making only his third first-team appearance of the season, and looked really good today. More of the same, please.
- What did you guys make of Brandt’s performance as a slightly deeper 8? Watching live, he looked poor, but the numbers underlying his performance look really good (see FotMob’s data). I’m still leaning on the side of “poor”, because that’s what the eye test tells me, but I’m not sanguine about it. He clearly excels as a sole 10 or in the double-10 role with Reus, though, so hopefully Terzic returns him to that spot.
- I have (unusually) no complaints with today’s refereeing. Well done, Dr. Matthias Jöllenbeck!
What did you make of today? Are you as baffled by this Brandt performance as I am? How good was that goal from Donny? Let us know!