— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) 20. August 2015
Well, that was fun – Borussia Dortmund’s game against Odd Grenland turned out to be an entertaining 3-4 win for the black and yellows, after the Norwegian side went 3-0 up after 22 minutes. In the end the heavy favourites had their way, to pave their way to the Europa League group stages.
Unless you like to follow the banter between football clubs on twitter, Thomas Tuchel’s line up choice ahead of the match was one of the more interesting points to look forward to. How much will the coach rotate in this match and how effective will it be? Marco Reus and Lukasz Piszczek were obviously out, but the coach opted for more rotation. Roman Weidenfeller, Matthias Ginter, Gonzalo Castro, Sven Bender and Kevin Kampl were new compared to the starting eleven against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
“Just five more minutes, Mom!”
By now Borussia Dortmund fans feel like parents, who have to deal with their children being reluctant to get out of bed every morning, making it it a battle to get them to school on time. Once again BVB hit the snooze button and rolled over, after the referee blew the opening whistle. 13.92 seconds it took for Odd to score the opening goal. All it took was one long ball to engage Gonzalo Castro into a duel on the right side. The €11 million signing once stated in an interview, that Tuchel “assured him, that he won’t be utilized as right back.” Castro was still sticking to the agreement after 10 seconds, when he lost the tackle on the right. Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender left Jone Samuelsen out of their sight, who popped into Dortmund’s box to head it past Roman Weidenfeller. Scenes reminiscent of Dortmund’s false start against Bayer Leverkusen on the very first match day of the previous season – and yes, it was THAT Jone Samuelsen, who is holding the world record for scoring the longest headed goal in history.
Shinji Kagawa smashed the bar just one minute later, but Odd’s frenzy continued. 20 minutes into the match, the Norwegians pounced again. This time it was Fedrik Nordkvelle, who was simply allowed to run in between Gonzalo Casto and Matthias Ginter with acres of space in between. Mats Hummels also didn’t look good on that play. Nordkvelle slotted the ball past Weidenfeller with a cool finish to double the lead.
It was already an upset for the home side to lead the game by 2-0 after 20 minutes. Yet, Odd Grenland had one more trick up their sleeve. Espen Ruud smashed a free kick in the right top corner from 30 meters out. Roman Weidenfeller underestimated the swerve on the ball and looked rather awkward in attempting a save. The balls used in this match were a bit different from the model used in the Bundesliga, which always makes goalkeepers easily look bad. Though a keeper of Weidenfeller’s quality should have done better. Literally odd first 22 minutes, which certainly increased the entertainment value of the entire match.
It might sound insane, but I find that these things can happen at this stage of the season. After all, Borussia Dortmund haven’t played in that formation so far this season and for Ginter and Castro it was the very first competitive match from the beginning in these positions. Since the team clearly needed some time to adapt to the artificial turf and to the line up in general, I won’t lay any harsh criticism on them. Obviously, they could have done better.
Sadly, this “showing” might put Thomas Tuchel off, when it comes to rotation the future. In theory, it’s quite good to make the best of the depth in the team, but the false start in the game unveiled the risk of heavy rotation.
A comfortable win in the end
While the scoreline suggests a tense match, it was very dominant performance apart from the first 25 minutes. In the second half Dortmund were in full control of the match, as Tuchel made some half time adjustments. Sokratis came on for Castro and Ginter shifted to the right back position, where he looked far better than in the center of the back line. But already in the first half Shinji Kagawa, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ran the show.
It’s probably the big positive to take away from this match. Those three creative players do really create a lot. They easily dissected Odd’s deep-lying 4-5-1 without too many problems. Since Borussia Dortmund unsuccessfully hit the post four times in this match and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed an open net from one meter out, the black and yellows could have realistically scored 10 goals in this game. But four were enough to win the match, which keeps Dortmund’s perfect record alive this season.
In the end, it’s good to see that BVB were hardly fazed by going down 3-0 early. It speaks for their confidence in their own abilities, that they created chance after chance to eventually turn the match around. Shinji Kagawa scoring his first goal of the season with a net half-volley to make it 3-2 just after half time brought the momentum back on Dortmund’s side. From that moment on it only seemed like a matter of time for BVB to turn the tie around. While there are obviously defensive issues to be dealt with, Borussia Dortmund’s offense is just fine. Even without Marco Reus it looked utterly convincing. Finally chances are created with easy, the combinations look sharp and stylish and the players look so much more comfortable on the ball. Yes, Odd Grenland are maybe not on the highest level, but again BVB have been extremely fun to watch, which should be the most important message to take away from this 3-4 Thursday night Europa League play-off affair.
Now Borussia Dortmund can focus on FC Ingolstadt, who await on Sunday. It’s hard to imagine that the return leg in Dortmund will be much trouble for BVB, who should now comfortably qualify for the Europa League group stages.
— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) 20. August 2015