Dortmund continue to gain ground on the Champions League spots with a convincing 4-0 win over FC Köln. Both of Dortmund’s wins in 2024 have been against two relegation-threatened sides but that should not take away from the fact that they looks better. After needing a scrappy goal to beat Köln at home, Dortmund went away from home for the reverse fixture, scored four goals, and kept a clean sheet. Jadon Sancho got his first start since rejoining the club and continued to settle into the side. The real heroes of the match were Dortmund’s two Dutchmen; Donyell Malen and Ian Maatsen. Malen once again looked lively with two goal contributions and is hopefully out of his funk. Despite being on loan and having a 35 million euro release clause, Dortmund fans will be tempted to start a go-fund-me for Chelsea’s Ian Maatsen after he staked a claim for being the most talented player in the squad.
Here are some of my post-match observations from today’s win against Köln.
Huge three points
Most expected Dortmund to notch six points against Darmstadt and Köln, but Dortmund managed to do so in a convincing fashion. They are yet to concede a goal in 2024 and managed to score seven across both games. On top of that, Dortmund’s competition for the top four dropped points with Stuttgart losing to Bochum, who Dortmund play next week, and Leipzig vs. Leverkusen playing while this article is being written. Regardless of the outcome, one of them will drop points and Dortmund’s win over Köln helps them capitalize. We still have sixteen games to go but things look significantly less bleak than three weeks ago.
Ian Maatsen Impresses with Terzic’s instructions
Many touted Maatsen as someone who would come in and be the best full-back on the team but few expected him to be this good. He solves a lot of the defensive problems that Dortmund had with Bensebaini and, more importantly, offers ball progression that no other Dortmunder has managed to do this season. His range of passing, speed, and ability to dribble has seen him become the go-to outlet when Dortmund are playing out of the back. Interestingly enough, Terzic also expanded on what he tested out last week with Maatsen dropping into midfield when Dortmund had the ball and it worked wonders for the team. He notched a fantastic assist which, in this writer's opinion, is subsidiary to the work he did building out the back.
Youssoufa Moukoko Continues to Capitalize
After scoring a wonderful goal last weekend, Moukoko will feel hard done to not have started this match. He came on in the 74th minute and, in the dying stages of the match, scored a poacher’s goal with his third touch of the game. He now has two goals across his last 24 minutes and is once again making his claim for the starting striker position. While Füllkrug scored a very composed penalty in this match, I did not think he was at his best. Will Moukoko start next week? Probably not. Should he? Probably.
- Hendry Blank did well in his debut. The 19-year-old German did everything asked of him and should continue to be a good backup if called upon. His debut has some added intrigue with Niklas Süle being taken off at halftime. Twitter claimed it was an injury, but others claim intrigue. With Dortmund down to only one senior center-back, we might be seeing more of Hendry Blank.
- Donyell Malen looked lethal once again. The Dutchman bagged two well-taken goals and looks to be regaining some of the form that we saw at the start of the season. Like last year, Malen’s ability to score will be crucial if Dortmund want to make up ground this season.
- It was a routine win. Dortmund had few players who looked fantastic outside of Malen and Maatsen. Instead, the entire team put their heads down and got the job done. The additions of Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen have added a much-needed spark but the team will need to continue to fine-tune their problems, most notably in midfield, if they want to gain momentum.
What were your reactions to the game? Am I wrong and stupid? Do you also love the Netherlands? What happened to Niklas Süle?