A game surrounded by controversies, Borussia Dortmund played a near-perfect match against surprise Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig.
After dropping two points late at Mainz last weekend, Thomas Tuchel and his side had come in for a lot of criticism at the beginning of the week. The magnifying glasses were well and truly out, the knives sharpened in preparation of Leipzig’s visit to the Westfalenstadion.
Well, they can all be put away for now.
Once again, Tuchel was vindicated in his decision to field something of a back five, with Marc Bartra and Erik Durm both repaying the coach’s faith with good performances. Durm, in particular, was incredibly important with Dortmund looking to transition and open spaces behind Leipzig down the right-hand side.
Ousmane Dembélé had some joy attacking that channel in the first half and, after he and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had threatened a couple of times, the Frenchman carved open the opposition defence to lay the only goal of the game on a plate for Dortmund’s top goalscorer.
A constant threat, Dembélé was a big part of Dortmund looking dangerous on the break, just like the good old days. Had Marco Reus (three times) or Aubameyang (once) been more clinical, the scoreline would have been much more convincing. Matthias Ginter was also close to scoring from the bench.
Attacking is, though, just one part of the game.
In the winter break, Tuchel said his players had to be proud of their defensive work. They certainly looked it on Saturday.
Players with more lightweight frames – take Julian Weigl and Marco Reus, for instance – heavily indulged in the dirtier sides of the game. Never allowing their opponents to rest, transitioning into the defensive phase well,
It helps to have a commanding and front-footed goalkeeper behind the backline and Roman Bürki played flawlessly.
xG map for Dortmund – Leipzig.
OH GOD pic.twitter.com/KlGoHKH8Cp
— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) February 4, 2017
Of course, Leipzig did get in behind once. But there isn’t much to say about that. Thomas has me covered.
— Florian (@FloTo09) February 4, 2017
A thoroughly convincing performance at both ends of the pitch and a more than deserved win.
A couple of other talking points:
- Tuchel’s subs were fantastic. Many would have expected him to turn to André Schürrle over Christian Pulisic when Dembélé came off injured but the American was almost faultless. A huge threat, hard-working and brilliant at running the clock down.
- Matthias Ginter was chosen to come on over Mario Götze and completely justified that decision, he even deserved to score. Like Dembélé, Schürrle and Guerreiro have done already, Götze has got to prove he is indispensable when he gets a chance to play again.
There is only one big thing to take away from this result and, more importantly, this performance.
Borussia Dortmund are much closer to being on track than the hysterical media would have you believe. Now time to build on it.