Borussia Dortmund continued their strong start to the Rückrunde with a victory over local rivals VFL Bochum. With lots of injuries and against a team that has historically been a thorn in BVB’s side, it could’ve been a trap game. The end result, however, despite the plethora of issues that I could nitpick, was a comfortable 3-1 win.
Dortmund struck early through a very fortuitous bounce and some quick thinking from Donyell Malen. Bochum’s Ivan Ordets misplayed a pass straight back to Donyell Malen, who managed to wriggle around Manuel Riemann before the Bochum goalkeeper brought him down for a clear penalty kick. Niclas Füllkrug stepped up and beat Riemann for his first of two goals from the spot.
Dortmund would struggle to match that success for the rest of the first half, and in the dying minutes of the half, Bochum drew level. Nico Schlotterbeck, who had been stellar to that point, slid in front of Alexander Meyer to intercept a cross, only to inadvertently knock the ball into his own net. Meyer had clearly been screaming at Schlotterbeck to let him collect the ball, so I hesitate to assign any blame to the BVB backup.
Thankfully, BVB would re-assert themselves in the second half, and in the 71st minute would take the lead. It was once against Niclas Füllkrug who converted, this time leaping high into the air to head home a looped cross from Marcel Sabitzer. Dortmund would then ice the game with another penalty, this time after Bochum’s Cristian Gamboa brought down Jamie Bynoe-Gittens in the penalty box. Up stepped Niclas Füllkrug again, who calmly slotted the ball past Riemann to complete the hat trick and secure the win.
Edin Terzic’s transformation into a cut-rate Sean Dyche finally reached its culmination. Over the last few months, Terzic has transformed a club that once flourished on high-octane attacking football into a “defense”-first outfit that grinds away close wins against even the lowliest opponents. This transformation concluded today with the formation perhaps most associated with defensive football, the 4-4-2.
In Terzic’s defense, this change was as much necessitated by injuries as anything else. With Julian Brandt, Marco Reus, and Felix Nmecha sick or injured, Terzic had scant options in midfield, other than Gio Reyna, who Terzic absolutely refuses to play in midfield. The result was a midfield pairing of Marcel Sabitzer and Salih Özcan behind a striker pair of Youssoufa Moukoko and Füllkrug.
Who Needs the Center Anyway?
Unfortunately, between Edin Terzic’s setup and Bochum’s aggresive pressing, Salih Özcan and Marcel Sabitzer were constantly swarmed and were barely able to advance the ball through the center of the pitch. This meant that almost all progression occurred on either flank, with full-backs Ian Maatsen and Thomas Meunier handling the bulk of the possession duties. Meunier and Maatsen were first and second respectively in touches among BVB players, and the effect can be seen on this heat map from Whoscored.com:
The massive red blob in the bottom left is Thomas Meunier, and his concentration of touches in the defensive half, compared to the more even distribution of touches across the top (BVB’s left wing) demonstrates that he was much less effective than his counterpart Ian Maatsen at progressing the ball. Meanwhile, BVB managed to control the ball very little in the pitch, demonstrating just how effective Bochum were at cutting off Marcel Sabitzer and Salih Özcan, at least in the middle third.
- Ian Maatsen was, once again, fantastic. He saved a goal after Nico Schlotterbeck passed the ball right to a Bochum player in front of his own goal, was one of BVB’s most effective players in possession, and looked dangerous going forward. At a certain point, I think that BVB will have to bite the bullet and cut a massive check to sign him, because he could be a real difference-maker once he has a better squad built around him.
- Jadon Sancho had a mostly quiet game, although he did show a few bursts of the attacking quality that us Dortmund fans are hoping he will provide. I think as he continues to play, and hopefully as more and more players return from injury, he will get better.
What did you think of today’s game? Let me know your thoughts!