Borussia Dortmund confirmed their first away win of the season yesterday when they won 4-2 against Freiburg. Despite the convincing scoreline, the match was anything but for Terzic’s side and Dortmund needs to improve if they want to push into the title race. Terzic made two changes for this match with Ryerson and Hummels coming in for Wolf and Süle respectively.
The game proved to be an entertaining one right from the start with both Dortmund and Freiburg having opportunities at either end. Hummels opened the scoring in the eleventh minute, however, after being completely unmarked on a corner kick. Brandt found Hummels with his cross and the defender found the back of the net. Hummels has now scored in sixteen consecutive Bundesliga seasons and scored what felt like Dortmund’s first set-piece goal in six months.
The first half remained tense after the goal and saw an early substitution for Freiburg as club legend Vincenzo Grifo came on for an injured Gregoritsch. Dortmund was cruising to halftime when everything hit the fan in stoppage time just minutes before the break. Grifo put in an in-swinging cross from about 35 yards out that glanced off the top of Lucas Holer’s head and past Gregor Kobel. 1-1 in Freiburg. The home side kept up the pressure and won a free kick near the box after a ridiculously stupid challenge from Adeyemi. Grifo, once again, found the noggin of Nicholas Hofler in the middle of the box and the midfielder put the ball past Kobel. 2-1 and the whistle sounded for halftime.
Marius Wolf replaced an injured and yellow-carded Bensebaini at halftime. Borussia Dortmund started the second half well and Terzic made several subs at the 59th minute with Füllkrug coming on for Haller and Nmecha coming on for Adeyemi. Within a minute, Füllkrug played a one-two with Malen that saw the Dutchman get in behind and level the score.
Both sides had opportunities to pull in front and in the 81st minute, VAR awarded a red card to Nicolas Hofler for a foul on Sabitzer. This opened the door for more Dortmund pressure and Dortmund finally scored, with Mats Hummels seizing advantage of a loose ball from a free kick. Dortmund got their second goal, this time from Marco Reus, in stoppage time to seal the game. While it was Dortmund’s best victory in the Bundesliga so far this season, there are still obvious signs that the team needs to improve. Here are the takeaways:
Set Pieces on Both Ends of the Field
Of the six goals in this match, all three ‘go-ahead goals’ from both teams were from set-piece situations. Dortmund must be threatening on set pieces this season with the physical talent the team now possesses all across the field. The likes of Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Can, Haller, and Füllkrug provide a breadth of targets to aim for. Combine that with three fantastic dead-ball players in Brandt, Reus, and Sabitzer, you have a fantastic team for set-pieces. This game showcased that as Hummels put on a man-of-the-match performance thanks to his two set-piece goals. On the other side of set-pieces, Dortmund has zero excuse to concede set-piece goals. Edin Terzic and the backroom have created an immensely physical team in Dortmund and now they have to use that to win games and they potentially started with this one.
Terzic’s Substitions Were Right
With all eyes on Terzic, the manager got a lot wrong and a lot right in this game. Borussia Dortmund continues to drive away from the possession-based and clinical football established under Favre and Marco Rose. Some, including myself, would say this is a massive mistake.
On the other hand, however, is that Terzic’s substitutions were terrific in this game. Of his five subs, one got a goal (Reus) and the other two got an assist each. Additionally, while he was not credited with an assist, Reus put in the set piece that led to Hummel’s second goal. Terzic got his substitutions right today and deserves praise for that.
After the Heidenheim game, I put both Haller and Adeyemi on blast for their abysmal play. I am going to do that again today. Both players looked completely lost on the field and deserved to be subbed out in the 60th minute. Adeyemi, who hasn’t played a good match since last season, won only 2 of his 10 duels and didn’t do much of note except for gifting Freiburg the set piece that led to their second goal. His first touches have been worse, he has been poor when running at players and hasn’t been making the runs in between that he was so good at last season.
Haller is in a similar boat. He is completely lost in possession and his stats show that. He completed only 50% of his 14 passes, had only 20 touches, and had only two shots on target with neither being on frame. This is Dortmund’s record-breaking striker and, at 29 years old, is in the prime of his career. While a part of me thinks they’re being asked to play outside of their skillset, it’s no surprise that Dortmund scored three goals when they left the field. They need to be better.
What were your takeaways from the match?