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Post Match Reaction: Weak Win on Matchday One

Dortmund are lucky to start the season with three points.

Borussia Dortmund v 1. FC Köln - Bundesliga Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Well, that’s one way to win your first game of the season.

BVB left it late against FC Köln, who after 88 minutes looked better value for a win than the hosts. Dortmund were unpolished for the majority of the match, with sloppy passes and predictable attacking movements regularly snuffed out by the opposition. Köln were quick on the counter, and BVB’s new-look midfield was overrun on multiple occasions, only to be bailed out by their defensive line, or the keeper. Ultimately, BVB were able to maintain their clean sheet and needed a lucky set piece to snag a winner.

After such a spirited preseason, fans would have expected more from the black-and-yellows in their first match of the season. Sure, there are quite a few injuries in the squad, but Terzic was able to roll out a perfectly acceptable lineup for a Bundesliga matchday. Beginning with Julian Brandt and Donyell Malen on the wings is nothing new to this team, but despite Brandt’s position in the lineup, he wasn’t exactly playing winger very often. Brandt always prefers to operate in the space around the top of the eighteen, linking play between Malen and Haller. When Brandt took up those spaces in today’s match, he crowded Reus out of the buildup and left his own space vacant. This left Bensebaini with an enormous amount of field to cover, and he was unsurprisingly caught out a few times because of it.

Bensebaini also struggled to get involved on the offensive side of the game. The Algerian delivered several wayward passes and had trouble creating chemistry with the midfielders in front of him. The performance was by no means the fault of Bensebaini; quite the opposite. For a new player in the side, Bense was asked to do too much in his first Bundesliga matchday and unfortunately may have picked up an injury because of it. Maybe this explains why Rapha Guerreiro never wanted to track back...Still. Bensebaini managed to keep 77% accurate passes and win 89% of his duels, with ten ball recoveries. It was a solid defensive performance, even if it was grueling.

In midfield, Sabitzer provided some positivity. The Austrian was all over the ball, amassing 67 touches and winning half of his duels. It wasn’t vintage Leipzig Sabitzer, but he is quickly finding his feet in this team. The same cannot be said for Can’s performance, and the captain was rightly hooked. Can was a bit erratic, failing to establish his presence in midfield and regularly putting the defense under unnecessary pressure.

Borussia Dortmund v 1. FC Köln - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

As for the attack, it speaks plenty to say that the player with the most shots on target and highest xG for the match was Mats Hummels. No discredit to Hummels, he was getting involved. But BVB’s attackers need to find better ways to break down defenses with strong resolve. Pacey wingers and backheel flicks only get you so far, and while scoring from set pieces should be a goal for BVB, they were woeful in attack from open play.

Maybe next week Hummels will get a nod to start up top.

It’s on to the next match for BVB, as a win in the books puts the team where it should be to start the season. Edin Terzic has plenty of tactical analytics to do after today’s match because what the team showed today will not be good enough to outscore or out-defend new-look juggernauts like Leipzig and Leverkusen.

What were your thoughts on BVB’s unconvincing first win of the season? Where should Terzic look first when critiquing this performance? Let us know in the comments.