Borussia Dortmund put seven past overwhelmed visitors in what can well be described as the highest attended exhibition game in the club’s recent memory.
In a surprising move, BVB head coach Thomas Tuchel opted to change only three players from Sunday’s comfortable win over newly promoted FC Ingolstadt in the Bundesliga: Roman Weidenfeller replaced Roman Bürki in their usual early season rotation, Sokratis came in for Neven Subotic, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was rested for the first time this season as Jonas Hofmann took his place in the starting lineup. Again, Jakub Blaszczykowski was left out of the squad and more surprisingly – or not – Kevin Kampl, who is rumored to join Bayer Leverkusen.
After the game, Tuchel noted how he and his staff had contemplated giving Henrikh Mkhitaryan a breather and that they decided against it after seeing him in their early morning warm-up practice. The fans of the Schwarzgelben were glad he wasn’t sitting on the bench in the 25th minute.
Up to that point, the game had a familiar feel to it. One could be forgiven for experiencing a Déjà vu of sorts when Odds BK went in front with their first touch in Borussia’s box – even if this time it didn’t come after 13 seconds. It took Ole-Jörgen Halvorsen (or his hair, to be precise) 19 minutes to bring his team in front, thanks in large part to another goalkeeping blunder by Roman Weidenfeller. Instead of dominating the box like we’ve seen him do so many times in his illustrious career, the 35 year old chose to start complaining about two opponents “impeding” with him while the ball was still in the air from a corner kick.
That goal came completely against the run of play, as Borussia had already started to suffocate their opponent deep inside his own half with clever and controlled passing.
Much like last week, the team didn’t panic after going behind, and it only took them six minutes to answer Odds’ goal. And what an answer it was: a belter of a goal, a thunderous shot from outside the box, an early frontrunner for the club’s goal of the season award.
Like so many times already in this young season, it was Henrikh Mkhitaryan who provided the special quality.
His wondergoal into the top right corner of Sondre Rossbach’s goal broke the deadlock and paved the way to a spectacular rest of the first half. Marco Reus scored two minutes after BVB’s no. 10 thanks in large part to a fine delivery from Ilkay Gündogan, who dribbled past two defenders with ease and served the ball on a silver plate to Reus. He scored his second in the 31st minute, finishing a brilliant team-move – Gündogan chipped a lovely lobbed pass to Mkhitaryan, who played the ball first time across the goal, leaving Reus with only a tap-in to make it 3:1. Shinji Kagawa, who’s showing great form in these last few games, closed the 1st half scoring from a deflected pass by Matze Ginter, who again displayed a surprising level of comfort on the right side.
In the 2nd half, the excellent Ilkay Gündogan got BVB’s scoring rampage off with a powerful effort from long range, albeit one that Rossbach definitely should have saved. Reus completed his hat-trick before the hour mark in a repeat performance from the aforementioned 3:1. This time in a counter attacking move, Gündogan played the ball out to the left, where Mkhitaryan had enough time and space to pick out Reus with a well timed pass. Kagawa scored his second in the final minute of the game after the again very impressive Julian Weigl won the ball inside Odds’ box – a testament to the hunger and desire the team displayed throughout the evening.
The only blemish in the 2nd half was Oliver Berg’s goal in the 64th minute, although the Norwegians deserve credit for that consolation goal. It was one of those a far superior side like Dortmund will concede from time to time against even this level of opposition. Roman Weidenfeller had no chance to save the shot into the bottom right corner. Odds BK have now scored all five goals Borussia has conceded in the first seven competitive matches of the season – in a statistical anomaly, it only took them seven shots in 180 minutes.
Curiously, the 2nd half wasn’t used to give players who haven’t featured much so far some playing time. Lukasz Piszczek, fit from a slight knock to his hip that kept him out of the last two games, was subbed on for Sokratis in the 64th minute, moving Ginter into his more natural position in the heart of the defence. In the same minute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was brought on for Mkhitaryan. That substitution is a hard one to find a good explanation for, seeing as Adrian Ramos, who needs to get some playing time under his belt, sat on the bench for 90 minutes. It seemed like Tuchel playing with fire when he subbed on last season’s lifeline in an already decided game. Two minutes later, Sven Bender replaced Ilkay Gündogan.
In Mkhitaryan and especially Gündogan, Tuchel opted to give his two most impressive players of the evening an early rest. Mkhitaryan scored the equally beautiful and important 1:1 and picked up another two assists, putting his scoring tally at an impressive eight goals and six assists in seven games. Gündogan bossed the midfield the entire time he was on the pitch. It was a true masterclass of a performance, one in which he accumulated an outrageous number of 121 touches in just 64 minutes. He was the creator of three goals and scored one himself. His outing against Odds BK left nothing to be desired, as even Tuchel said in his postgame remarks to the press:
“He combines all the qualities a modern midfielder needs to have.”
Thomas Tuchel on Ilkay Gündogan
All in all it was the expected comfortable win against a side that was always going to be overwhelmed by Dortmund’s class. All eyes will now be on Monaco, where the draw of the Europa League’s group stage will take place tomorrow at 1300 CEST.
Be sure to check back with this space for our reaction to BVB’s draw.