Borussia Dortmund kicked off the weekend against their toughest test of the year so far, hosting an in-form RB Leipzig side that have lost just twice in the league since Marco Rose took over as manager. It was a massive game for both sides. A Borussia Dortmund win would take them to the top of the Bundesliga, while an RB Leipzig victory would put them third, just one point from first. Thankfully, it was the Black & Yellows that came out on top, claiming all three points in a closely-contested 2-1 win that could prove vital in the... **whispers**… title race.
The match got off to a quick start, with Julian Brandt having a goal ruled out due to a handball just 13 minutes in to the game. BVB didn’t have to wait long for a goal to celebrate though, as Marco Reus converted a penalty less than 10 minutes late, after he was brought down in the penalty area by Leipzig’s goalkeeper, Janis Blaswich. The first half was a close-fought affair, but BVB made their chances count, going 2-0 up through an Emre Can volley from just outside the area before the break.
RB Leipzig came out swinging in the second half, and BVB conceded a lot of ground as they retreated and tried to hold on to their lead. After much knocking, Leipzig eventually found their way through the barricades after Emil Forsberg converted David Raum’s low cross. Forsberg’s goal gave RB Leipzig the belief they needed to push for the equalizer late in the game, but despite piling on the pressure, it wasn’t enough. A number of BVB players chipped in with blocks and clearances in and around the goalmouth to hold on to their slim lead, coming away with all three points.
Here’s my reaction to this vital Friday night win:
BVB Survive the “Chin Check”
RB Leipzig played an incredibly physical game, and they piled a ton of pressure on BVB in the second half. There were the significantly stronger side after the break, and in total they had the better of the whole game, but Dortmund dug deep and held on to all three points. Given the opposition, that’s more than enough for me.
I think there’s often a tendency to attribute luck to teams “finding a way to win” when they’re at the top of the table. The idea that championship-winning teams have to be able to find a way to win even when they’re not playing well is regularly parroted by the media and by fans, but a significant chunk of that is probably that teams need things to fall their way to win the league. I think both were on display tonight. BVB took their chances well and made the most of their own periods of dominance, while digging deep and putting on a solid defensive display to see the game out, but they were also lucky to come out on top in this game. There were a handful of chances that easily could have led to Leipzig’s equaliser, but it didn’t quite come together for the East Germans, and that was pretty fortunate for BVB.
If teams need a healthy dose of luck to go all the way and win the league, then maybe this really is Borussia Dortmund’s year?
Emre Can is a Changed Man
Emre Can is one of the most talented players in this team, and that is what often makes him the most frustrating too. While others have to make the most of what they’ve got, Emre Can is blessed. He’s a phenomenal athlete, he’s technically very, very capable in and out of possession, and he is an intelligent player with a good sense of timing and spatial awareness.
That is, he’s an intelligent player right up until the point he’s not. He has made a habit of doing supremely boneheaded things, and those moments often negate his otherwise good work.
For this reason, I was one of many BVB fans that was bracing themselves for the cacophony of stupid that so often follows Can around the field when he was given the nod to start against Mainz back in January. Instead, he has cemented his place in the starting eleven, becoming an integral part of Dortmund’s hot run of form. In the last few games I think he’s been one of the best players on the pitch, and today, I think he was the very best. He absolutely deserved his goal. He deserved it before he put in a stellar performance against RB Leipzig tonight. He deserved it even more by the end of the game.
Will Marco Reus Finish his Career as BVB’s Top Goalscorer?
Marco Reus will finish his career as one of Borussia Dortmund’s greatest ever players. His opening goal tonight saw Reus move into second place in BVB’s goalscoring records, tied with the club’s undisputed greatest ever, Michael Zorc, on 159 goals in all competitions. He is now 18 goals behind Dortmund’s all-time top goalscorer, Alfred Preissler, on 177 goals.
Excluding the 2017/18 season, which he missed a lot of through injury, Reus has averaged ~15 goals a season. With six goals so far this season, he will hopefully manage to reach double figures again. If he managed to score 10 goals this season and next season, he would go in to the 2024/25 season, at 35 years old, needing just five goals to become BVB’s top goalscorer.
It’s a tough ask, but if he stays at Dortmund for a couple more seasons? I wouldn’t rule it out!
What did you make of Borussia Dortmund’s win against RB Leipzig? Was it more luck or skill? And do you think Marco Reus will be able to break Preissler’s record?