After four consecutive wins in a row, things are not only continuing in the right direction in the table for Borussia Dortmund, but the form curve is on the rise. The team’s strong performance in the win in Hoffenheim on Friday last week was topped up with an incredible first half (against Milan) and the best second half of the season (the 4-2 win against 1. FC Union Berlin) in a space of eight days.
A tweak from Edin Terzic was the determining factor. After a first period in which there were just a few chances and from mostly set pieces too, Borussia’s coach found not only the right words for Dortmund during half-time team talk but the right defence too and the centre-backs further forward.
The coach sympathised with Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, who was put on the line to implement his tactical tweak. “It had nothing to do with his performance,” Terzic stressed, adding: “He was actually one of the liveliest in the first period.” The reason for the winger’s substitution: “We wanted to also have Jule Brandt in the centre in order to create numerical superiority.”
Dortmund which had been 2-1 down at the break, turned the tides within five minutes. A result of the tactical switch – “We wanted to build up with three players so that Emre had the game in front of him and was slightly deeper than the two other centre-backs” – led to the moment in the 49th minute when Mats Hummels who was assisted by Emre Can in the opposition half, passed the ball to Nmecha, who sent it to Nico Schlotterbeck. What happened next was a remarkable goal, the perfect long-range shot into the Union net.
“He doesn’t hit the ball so well in training,” said Terzic with a grin on his face. “I hit it – the fact that it went in like that was very good,” Schlotterbeck said succinctly, before adding: “We played a very good game in the second half. We changed positions very often, we were very flexible on the pitch, and Marco and Julian were super in the spaces in between.”
Reus and Brandt combined to deliver a goal that gave Dortmund 3-2. Julian Brandt cleared a Christopher Trimmel cross in his own penalty area and Marco Reus then showed his astounding mastery of the game. The second he got the ball in his own half, he kept his eyes on Brandt and moved forward at the exact pace that Brandt needed to run past him. A pass right into his path, a short touch and a shot at head height for the opposition goalkeeper that he couldn’t stop.
“When we get the ball into dangerous areas, then we pose a danger,” explained centre-forward Niclas Füllkrug, who had opened the scoring at 1-0 in the match. He emphasised “the force and energy with which we approached the second half: We then played really super football.”
If Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich moved past Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga table last Sunday, then the team will spend its international break in fourth position (or higher) and will want to continue the trend in a fortnight’s time. “We’re on a decent path,” emphasised Nico Schlotterbeck, “but we can still do a lot more”.
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