Borussia Dortmund entered today’s match against Köln with two things in mind; kickstarting a new winning streak, and building some new momentum ahead of Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich in two weeks. Being two points behind Bayern and looking to gather momentum heading into the international break, Dortmund needed a statement win. They did just that.
Dortmund started what felt like an experimental lineup with Mahmoud Dahoud, Jude Bellingham, and Raphael Guerreiro in midfield (more on that later), and the club’s captain returning to the lineup to replace Jamie Bynoe-Gittens. It took all of fifteen minutes for the side to acclimate to each other, and once that happened, the goals started to rain. The first came from Dortmund’s right side as Marius Wolf played Donyell Malen in behind. Malen then committed one of my favorite dribbles of the season and beat Köln’s Chabot with a fancy spin move. He then fed a short through-ball to Guerreiro and he finished with a precise past to the back post. 1-0 Dortmund. Not even two minutes later, Dortmund finished a wonderful team goal: Bellingham dribbled in from the right side 40 yards from the goal, played a pass through three Köln defenders that found Reus. Reus completed a one-touch backheel pass to Guerreiro who then completed a one-touch pass to Haller who smashed a first-time finish into the roof of the net. 2-0 Dortmund in the 17th minute.
BVB continued their flurry in the 32nd minute, as Malen recycled a saved shot back into possession and found Guerreiro once again. Rapha slid the ball across the box and Reus scored his 149th Bundesliga goal over the top of traffic. 3-0 Dortmund. Four minutes later, Niklas Süle found Malen running into space on the left side. The Dutch forward sprinted past his man and smashed a ball into the goalie. Köln’s goalkeeper, Schwabe, who had a night to forget, could only parry the ball into his own net. 4-0 Dortmund.
Köln would get one back right before the break as David Selke beat Schlotterbeck in the box and shot right at Meyer. Meyer then proceeded to fumble the ball back into Selke’s path and the German thumped the ball over the top of him. Halftime came with a score of 4-1 and one of Dortmund’s best performances of the season despite conceding the late goal.
The second half featured more of the same with a slightly lower tempo as both teams acknowledged the rout. In the 69th minute (Nice), Dortmund won a freekick just outside the box. Despite both Reus and Guerreiro standing over it, MAHMOUD DAHOUD took the freekick and was inches away from a wonderful goal. Fortunately, the ball was parried against the crossbar and fell to the feet of Sebastian Haller who scored his second of the match. 5-1 Dortmund. Two minutes later, Donyell Malen found Marco Reus with through ball in the box and the captain scored his 150th Bundesliga goal! 6-1 Dortmund. From there, the game slowed down tremendously. Subs were introduced, included Giovanni Reyna and Anthony Modeste, but neither failed to make a lasting impact.
So, to recap for everyone:
Donyell Malen: 1 Goal 2 Assists.
Rapha Guerreiro: 1 Goal, 2 Assists.
Marco Reus: 2 Goals.
Sebastian Haller: 2 Goals.
Niklas Süle : 1 Assist.
Mahmoud Dahoud: Yep, I’m counting it. 1 Assist.
It was an interesting lineup from the onset with Dahoud, Guerreiro, and Bellingham in midfield for the first time together. After a goal against Schalke last weekend, Guerreiro was slotted back into that ‘playmaker’ role under the forwards. Much like Brandt, he was given the freedom to move across the final third. Unsurprisingly, putting Dortmund’s most technical player closer to the goal worked wonders, and the Portuguese international just reinvented his career in front of our eyes. What will be interesting to see is how can we utilize both Rapha and Brandt when both are healthy.
On the other side of the midfield trio, Mahmoud Dahoud made his return to the starting lineup for the first time in 2023. Despite confirmation that he won’t be a Borussia Dortmund player next season, Dahoud showcased what he brings to the club and began pulling the strings at the base of midfield. In possession, Dahoud slotted between the two center backs at times and acted as a distributor pulling the strings across midfield. Oftentimes, he would just act as an outlet for Schlotterbeck and Süle to utilize in an effort to beat Koln’s high press. Despite shifting the entire midfield, Terzic’s plan worked wonders and Dortmund dominated the midfield and, equally important, kept Shkiri quiet the entire match.
Out of Contract Players Make Headlines
Dortmund’s man-of-the-match was, by most accounts, Rapha Guerreiro. With one goal and two assists in a new position, he showed that he might just be reinventing his career. The more important question, though, is if he is reinventing his career at Borussia Dortmund. The Portuguese international is out of contract and his sudden boost in form could see Dortmund give him an offer. He’s not the only one too; Marco Reus just became Dortmund’s second-highest goalscorer ever and his contract expires at the end of the season. Mahmoud Dahoud, who acted as the team's metronome this game, is leaving at the end of the season because his contract expires. It will be interesting to see how these players' contract talks shake up after their uptick in form going into the final third of the season.
The Beginning of the Malenaissance?
What if I told you Donyell Malen doubled and tripled his Bundesliga assist tally for the season in this game? With one goal and two assists, the Dutchman easily has his best game in black and yellow. He continually harrassed and stretched Koln’s backline throughout the match and worked well with both Wolf and Guerreiro. If he can build upon this match, it will be a renaissance for not just him, but Borussia Dortmund as a whole.
Let us know what you think of this game! Do you think Rapha should stick to midfield? Will he and Brandt be able to play on the field at the same time? Did Dahoud just play his way into the squad?