It was nearly all Dortmund all the time on Sunday as the hosts ran riot over Wolfsburg. Apart from a few keen attacks, Die Wölfe were run ragged by the BVB attack, who made Swiss cheese of the defensive line and consistently had Koen Casteel under immense pressure. When Bellingham added BVB’s 4th, the visitors looked in complete disarray.
It was a surprising performance, not because Dortmund were so outstandingly dominant, but because Wolfsburg, who have been resurgent under Niko Kovac, looked about as lost for ideas as they did when they were flirting with relegation last season. Dortmund’s forwards used their pace and strength to slice through Wolfsburg repeatedly, and Wolfsburg did not seem to have a plan to stop them. 6-0 flatters BVB, but take nothing away from the forwards who did score, other than that they should have put a few more away!
Still, this game is no indication that Dortmund will steamroll the rest of their competition; if anything, this result may be a red herring. Here are my observations from the game, and what this result means for the remainder of the title race.
Wolfsburg Rolled Over
Wow, that was really a bit shocking. Wolfsburg are not the team they were last season, having appointed Nico Kovac and calmed what was a fast-burning inferno in 2021/22. Having been nine points clear of the relegation zone at the conclusion of that season, Die Wölfe have taken massive strides toward regaining their place of power in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg went into this game with a position in the European conference league at stake, which they are fighting hard for against the likes of Leverkusen and Mainz. All this is to say it’s not like they had nothing to play for in Dortmund. Maybe it was the tactics, maybe it was the Yellow Wall, but Nico Kovac’s side really flattered BVB today. Sebastiaan Bornauw had a particular howler at center-back, having been pasted by Adeyemi for Haller’s goal, disposed for Adeyemi’s second, and absent for Jude Bellingham’s first. While BVB should graciously accept the confidence boost from this match, there were several howler performances from the opposition that deepened the gulf in quality between the two sides.
When It Works, It Works
This match reminded me a LOT of my days playing FIFA. Today’s match reflected what was for many years my favorite way to play a game; bait the opposition into playing a high line then split the line on a quick counter. This method is extremely fun and results in high-scoring games against opposition that will bite. The issue is that 98% of other players were not so stupid as to fall into this trap. So I lost a lot. Today, Wolfsburg failed to adjust their game plan to a pacey and high-energy BVB and were punished for it time and time again. When Sébastien Haller is making sliding challenges in your defensive third while Karim Adeyemi breaks the sound barrier to run into the box, there’s clearly a system in play. Sure, this worked here, but this game should not erase the memory of a 90-minute Bochum match where BVB struggled to create and finish chances. Like most people I would play in FIFA, Bochum only needed one lesson to adjust their approach, and they were rewarded with a tie. Wolfsburg were not so quick to react, and it was too little too late for the Wolves. High-octane football is great until the ball is forced to slow down, and teams like Augsburg love to disrupt BVB’s rhythm.
Karim The Dream, and the Wonderful Wing Swap
When Karim Adeyemi pulled his hamstring against Hertha back in February, this writer was resigned to the expectation that the Dortmund injury curse had claimed another victim, and Adeyemi’s 2023 form had likely snapped along with his hamstring. While the layoff was a long one for Adeyemi, he has not only picked up right where he left off but has become both a creative and scoring monster for BVB. Finally having found chemistry with Donyell Malen, the two wingers have formed a partnership that has allowed them to terrorize fullbacks and adapt to each other’s strengths. While Malen's scoring exploits have been outstanding, I have been particularly impressed with the maturity of Adeyemi since his move to the left side of the attack. Despite his age, Adeyemi has shown a brilliant ability to keep his head up and make the correct decision on the ball. Now that the goals are flowing, the young German has the awareness to use his abilities not only to find the back of the net but to find his teammates in space to create opportunities for himself. Even if Dortmund cannot collect a title this year, Adeyemi’s progression has been a major coup for BVB.
What were your thoughts on today’s match? Has Hummels earned his contract extension, and is Adeyemi Dortmund’s new X-factor? Let us know in the comments.