Despite all of our constant whining about Borussia Dortmund’s abysmal transfer window, Edin Terzic’s tactical shortcomings and poor substitutions, and misguided man-management, our favorite club sits on top of the table... at least for the next few hours. Sure, the season is only six matches old and BVB have so far faced weak competition, but a 4-2-0 start is nothing anyone anywhere will complain about.
At the end of the season, the record is all anybody is going to care about. But while Borussia Dortmund did indeed win today, I was less impressed with their performance, and while it’s nice to be on top of the Bundesliga for now, it won’t last long if the squad continues to play like this.
Although BVB did start strong and were rewarded with an early goal from Niclas Füllkrug, the same struggles with ball progression continued and BVB paid dearly. While under heavy pressure, Mats Hummels tried to play a pass to Salih Özcan, but Anton Stach easily intercepted his ball, and in attempting to recover the ball, Mats Hummels brought him down, and Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty.
Luckily, thanks to some hard work from Donyell Malen and a clean finish from Marco Reus, Dortmund finished the half up a goal, but Hoffenheim pushed hard in the second half. A free kick from Robert Skov struck the crossbar, and Gregor Kobel saved a point-blank header from Grischa Prömel. Eventually, Dortmund were reduced to 10 men following a boneheaded second yellow card from Ramy Bensebaini. While Julian Ryerson did eventually score a goal with a monstrous individual effort to make it 3-1, it was still much closer than it probably needed to be.
So that’s my recap. Here are some further observations:
- Wow. If you haven’t seen Julian Ryerson’s goal, just watch it for yourself. For a brief moment, it appears he transformed into 2014 Gareth Bale.
- Donyell Malen appears to be Dortmund’s main driver on offense at the moment. He basically created BVB’s second goal by bulldozing his way past Stach and Skov and launching in a cross, which bounced straight to Marco Reus. He also out-muscled Ozan Kabak to create a chance in the 14th minute, which is no easy feat. As of right now, Malen is untouchable in the Starting XI, especially with Karim Adeyemi struggling.
- I thought Julian Brandt had a bad game, although he did help create BVB’s first goal by winning the ball with pressure. He struggled in possession and seemed to lose challenges more often than not.
- Bensebaini’s red card was silly. He had a deserved first yellow card, and then later in the match frustratingly kicked a ball away after it had gone out of play. Referees love a good show, and very few will back down at the chance to send a player off for being petulant. Even though I sympathize with Bensebaini, as it appears he may have thought that another ball was going to be played, ultimately he’s experienced enough to know better.
- Hoffenheim are back... to being annoying. For a team that has historically been a pain in the behind for Borussia Dortmund, finishing 9th, 11th, and 12th in the last three seasons made Hoffenheim seem like they were falling out of relevancy. Unfortunately, they appear to be back. After beating Union Berlin last week, Hoffenheim mostly played BVB level today, beating Die Schwarzgelben on expected goals. Although I still think Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Dortmund, and RB Leipzig are a cut above, I could see Hoffenheim pushing for a Europa League spot.
What did you think of today’s game? Let me know your thoughts!