After a dreadful performance against Stuttgart, all eyes were on today’s contest versus an out-of-sorts Frankfurt side struggling through something of an injury crisis. Prior to kick-off, Mainz handed BVB a massive boost in the title race by blowing Bayern away 3-1, meaning that our fate was in our own hands.
After a tepid opening spell, Die Schwarzgelben broke the deadlock in style, with Jude picking up Brandt’s clever flick to finish in the far corner. Soon after, the lead was doubled, with Haller heading Kobel’s long kick to Adeyemi, who found Donny in acres of space to finish past Kevin Trapp. We were then forced to weather a storm, as Frankfurt piled on the pressure but were unable to make any clear-cut chances. Frankfurt’s hopes were finally dealt the coup de grace on the stroke of half-time, with big Mats Hummels (!) heading home his first of the season off a Rapha Guerreiro cross. Donny grabbed his brace midway through the second half, and, with Frankfurt failing to muster a credible threat for the rest of the game, we concluded a very satisfactory evening’s business with all three points. Here are my reactions:
Hummels Still Has a Lot to Offer
Many predicted he would struggle against the pacy Frankfurt attack, but Hummels marshaled the back line expertly, meaning the opposition posed little to no threat for the vast majority of the game. He also showed his adaptability, working with two different center-back partners. Hummels made the most recoveries of anyone on the pitch and popped up with a superbly-headed finish that effectively shut the door on Frankfurt’s chances. Didn’t seem to break much of a sweat doing it all as well. A Rolls-Royce performance from our veteran center-back, and one that has me hoping that an extension gets signed soon; he’s still got a lot left in the tank.
Wingers were Key
Frankfurt’s “doppelsechs” of Rode and Sow was effective at stifling our creative play through the middle, with Brandt especially impacted. This put the onus on Donny and Karim to make things happen, and they did just that. Time and time again, they used their pace to exploit the space between Frankfurt’s defensive and midfield lines, with the less mobile Rode and Sow unable to track back effectively when we bypassed them with vertical passes. The result? Two assists for Karim (who ended with a game-high 3 key passes), and Donny’s first Bundesliga brace! When Frankfurt brought on the more attack-minded Kamada for the flagging Rode, it essentially gave Adeyemi the run of the park, as his pace and energy made him an invaluable outlet, as he could almost always be found in space.
A Mature Performance
That’s how I’d label this one: mature. There is always obvious pressure to succeed at this stage of the season, made even greater by Bayern’s slip-up in Mainz and our own shocking performance in Stuttgart last weekend, but the team took it really well. They survived Frankfurt’s wave, adapted well to their system, and took chances when they came (scoring four out of an xG of approximately 1.05 is no mean feat). A thoroughly professional job from the boys in black and yellow, and one that might even give rise to some optimism with regards to the title race (I, however, refuse to be optimistic until the thing is firmly in our hands; this is what supporting Dortmund for over a decade does to you).
- Karim Adeyemi needs to shave; he will never reach Mo’s level of glory
- The midfield trio of Brandt, Jude, and Emre needs to stick; Oz just doesn’t offer enough in possession to justify his inclusion, and Brandt is really showing that he can work both in and out of possession.
- Rapha was magnificent at left-back today (perhaps because he had a lot of defensive support), and is now two clear at the top of the assists chart with 12. Let’s get that extension, please!
Do you think Hummels deserves an extension? How good were Karim and Donny? Does Karim need to shave the ‘stache? Let us know!