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Three Observations from Dortmund’s Hard-Fought Victory at Hoffenheim

On another day BVB could have had a hatful, but they made it hard for themselves.

TSG Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Nine out of nine, that’s quite something. It feels a bit peculiar as a Borussia Dortmund fan, to know the team are in such incredible winning form. It was only a few months ago we were packing it up, another season in the bin, maybe we will fight for the Pokal. Momentum is monstrous in sports, especially football, and Dortmund have seen their shift in monumental proportion.

Going into a weekend of heavyweight clashes, it was critical for BVB to collect the “routine” points against a Hoffenheim side who have failed to win since October. As Dortmund fans, we know this is exactly the type of game our team loves to lose. I had steeled myself for disappointment, but BVB managed to snag a single goal to lift themselves not only past the struggling Sinshiem side but also to the summit of the Bundesliga table.

Here are my observations from today’s match.

Dortmund Get it Done

I do not want to spend an enormous amount of time on this one, as we have said this before and will say it again: BVB have to win these types of games to be a legitimate challenger for any kind of title. Bayern Munich have the pedigree they do because of their ability to win games at their best and their worst. BVB struggled to command the game today, but one chance goal and resolute defending were enough on a day when the ball did not want to find the back of the net. If Dortmund concede today, chances are one of Union Berlin and Bayern Munich move back into first, and that could be curtains for BVB.

Are BVB in form?

Dortmund are top of the league, nine games unbeaten, and currently poised for a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Pundits are beginning to take notice, and the fans are growing in confidence. My question is, how well are BVB actually playing? In terms of interplay, I would say Dortmund are about as fluid as I have ever seen them. The team seems to have developed excellent chemistry in attack, with Guerreiro/Ryerson and Wolf offering outlets in the wide areas, while Can and Schlotterbeck provide relief at the back. This frees Reus, Brandt, and Bellingham to swing the ball around and around the box, confusing the opposition and creating openings to attack. There is also a greater sense of security in defense, as Süle and Schlotterbeck seem to have developed their understanding and benefitted from the resurgence of Emre Can, who helps prevent attacks from flowing freely into Dortmund’s final third.

Still, it feels like this isn’t yet it for BVB. The team is performing, but I wonder how much they are riding a momentum wave as opposed to really developing into a title contender. But one cannot come without another. The more BVB win and create momentum, the more chemistry the team will develop. Statistically, Dortmund’s performances align with their play, for the most part. Since the turn of 2023, BVB have marginally outperformed their xG, but not alarmingly. Games like Freiburg are outliers, and BVB actually underperformed their xG against Hoffenheim. Maybe it has just been so long since Dortmund were dominant that I’m struggling to accept it, but if they are not yet in top form as I suspect, it is critical for the team to keep winning in order to get there.

No Adeyemi, Some Problem

It is incredible that BVB went from nearly benching Karim Adeyemi to relying on him for creativity week-in-week-out. It is a testament to his impact that when he reached form, BVB began their winning streak. With Adeyemi injured, BVB stumbled a bit, as Jamie Bynoe-Gittens lacks Adeyemi’s refinement in the attack. The Englishman is a decent match for pace, but his ability to create opportunities does not yet match that of Adeyemi. Dortmund got it done today, but one of JBG, Donyell Malen, or Gio Reyna needs to step up and cause problems for opposing defenses in the absence of Adeyemi.

Do you feel that Dortmund are playing as well as they could be? What is the best outcome of Bayern v. Union tomorrow? Let us know in the comments.