Borussia Dortmund went to South West London looking to protect a slim 1-0 lead against a Chelsea side that sits in 10th place in the Premier League and has even managed to lose to Southampton twice this season. On form alone, this seemed like a game BVB should feel pretty good about. But Chelsea looked good in the first leg of the round-of-16 Champions League tie, and with several important BVB players out injured, there was some nerves among Dortmund fans heading into Tuesday evening’s fixture.
It turns out those doubters were correct to be nervous, because Chelsea looked nothing like the side that have struggled to convert their chances in the Premier League, and BVB’s defensive setup looked shaky from the start. Two goals either side of the half, one of which was highly controversial, turned the tie around and left BVB searching fruitlessly for a leveller in the last half hour. Havertz’s penalty has been discussed at length, and I can’t be bothered to focus on it here, so all I will say is that Borussia Dortmund were poor and it didn’t feel like Chelsea’s winner came against the run of play. BVB didn’t deserve to go through to the quarter finals.
Being knocked out of the Champions League doesn’t have to be a dampener on an otherwise very good season though. If anything, it could prove to be a good thing. Borussia Dortmund are in a title race, and I’d much rather see them knocked out of Europe than dropping three points in the league right now. Hopefully this will be the push BVB need to maintain their great run of form in the league. If the season ends with a Bundesliga title, no one will be dwelling on losing to Chelsea in the Champions League!
Here’s our ratings from Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea:
Wasn’t responsible for either goal and came up with a couple decent saves to keep Dortmund in the game.
Everyone was concerned about whether Meyer would be able to step in for Gregor Kobel. As it turns out, that was the least of our worries.
In a match where Dortmund’s game plan was to defend for 90 minutes, putting on a full back who can’t or doesn’t defend wasn’t ideal. He had a few bright moments going forward but they were too few and far between.
Got caught out on multiple occasions, including for Chelsea’s opening goal.
It wasn’t the worst handball in the world, but it was definitely a little negligent.
Thought Can was easily Dortmund’s best player. He’s the only player that I came away from the game thinking they were legitimately good and shouldn’t take any of the blame for the outcome.
Concur with Paul.
Like Süle, Salih Özcan was caught out quite a few times by the Chelsea offense. He was chasing ghosts for much of the game. I don’t think he’s been particularly great in recent weeks, and this game only adds to that poor run of form.
I don’t think Özcan was quite so bad as a 3, but still not great.
Bellingham was better than most other players in black and yellow, but I certainly didn’t think he was good. He was pretty busy, but didn’t really have a positive impact on the game.
Not the best performance for a guy currently in contract negotiations.
Don’t think Haller really got the service he needed to impact the game, so not sure he deserves quite as much flak as others. Still, he was unable to contribute much to BVB’s efforts.
It’s true that he didn’t get much service, but he also didn’t do much to get himself some service, and his hold-up play and other contributions weren’t anything special.
I thought Reyna was one of few players that had some bright moments, but it was very difficult for him to effect the game given how poor the rest of the team were.
Reyna probably bought himself a start or two over the next three months.
Malen was lively in the limited minutes he was on the pitch. Perhaps it’s a little generous to be giving Malen any rating, given that he was only on the pitch for about 15 minutes, but with everyone else playing so poorly I think he deserves a little credit.
I’m giving a worse team rating than the median individual rating here because I think the way the team was set up to play this game was particularly bad, and was probably the single most important factor in Dortmund’s downfall (with the possible exception of injuries). I think Edin Terzic has shown a consistent naivety with regards to how he approaches slim leads, always opting to try and protect the lead, usually by adding another defender late on in close games. In recent weeks this has happened a couple times, and BVB rode their luck but weren’t made to pay. Chelsea made Dortmund pay.
I would be a little more sympathetic to this approach if we looked like a side that relishes the defensive side of the game, but we look uncomfortable when we’re playing this way. I think we needed to go out and attack this game, and give Chelsea a reason to be a little pensive when they poured bodies forward.
Ultimately, I think Dortmund got exactly what they deserved. Over the course of the two legs Chelsea were the much better side, and I have a hard time feeling too hard-done-by about that Havertz penalty because it looked like it was only a matter of time before Chelsea would score their second. It’s obvious Terzic is learning on the job at the moment, so I hope this defeat will make him rethink how he approaches slim leads in the future (at least some of the time). We can’t afford to make any mistakes down the stretch of this title race!
This might be a little low, but I really can’t overstate how disgusted I was on Tuesday afternoon. Dortmund came out like deer in headlights, set up in a completely toothless defensive formation, somehow expecting to hold onto a 1-0 lead for 90 minutes with their backup goalie in net, despite no evidence that this team is anywhere close to capable of doing so.
That was NEVER going to happen. I don’t care how bad Chelsea have been this season, we were NEVER going to prevent them from scoring by hanging on by our fingernails at the edge of the 18-yard box, or trying to have Özcan break multiple pressing forwards twice a minute for an entire match. Joao Felix, Raheem Sterling, Et al. have way too much talent for that plan to ever have a realistic chance of working.
Chelsea came into the match desperate, and having struggled mightily, were low on confidence. You could tell that just by how poor Kai Havertz’s finishing was in the first half. Can you imagine what would have happened if BVB had grabbed a goal in the first 15 minutes? That could easily have iced the match. Instead, Dortmund played passively and let Chelsea build some confidence, and once they scored they had all the momentum on their side.
One reason I’m not too concerned with the penalty is because, at that moment in the game, I genuinely thought Dortmund’s odds of winning were below 10%, given how horrible we looked compared to Chelsea. If Havertz hadn’t been allowed to re-take his missed penalty, Chelsea would have scored again, I guarantee it.
As Paul mentioned above, Terzic needs to take this as a learning opportunity. We are not Atletico Madrid, and he is not Diego Simeone. Dortmund’s brand of football simply does not allow for the type of passive defensive gameplan we saw on Tuesday.