09 GAMES, 09 WINS (NEW RECORD), 33 GOALS, TOP OF THE BUNDESLIGA, BORUSSIA DORTMUND ARE THE BEST TEAM IN THE WOOORLD!
Halt, stop! Let’s get not ahead of ourselves. Borussia Dortmund just won 2-4 in Hannover to keep their perfect record, but the Schwarzgelben needed a lot of luck to take home all three points – although they were unsurprisingly the better team on the field.
Who would replace Marco Reus, who had to sit out because of a slightly broken toe? It was the only unanswered question ahead of the match.
Thomas Tuchel decided to go with Jonas Hofmann instead of newly signed Adnan Januzaj. “It was a close decision, but we chose Jonas because he is more familiar with our football. It’s chance for him to present himself once more from beginning and leave a mark.” It didn’t sound like Jonas Hofmann will be the preferred choice for long to replace to replace either in offensive midfield.
Borussia played less asymmetrical as they’ve done so in recent games and didn’t overload the left side as heavily with Hofmann sticking more to his right side. Hannover were focused on cutting off the passing routes through the middle, leaving Dortmund’s wings open. The home side waited for BVB behind the center circle and relied on counter-attacks and set-pieces, which worked out frighteningly well.
Looking at the statistics of the match, Borussia Dortmund dominate in almost every category. 65% – 86% passing accuracy; 27.7% – %72.3 possession; 5 – 18 shots; 65 – 223 passes in the attacking third. So it’s hard to argue that Dortmund’s win was undeserved from a statistical point of view – and overall from every other point of view as well.
Looking at more general statistics, it’s very interesting that Dortmund’s average distance covered per game has been reduced by 8 km. BVB averaged 118.4 km last season, while they average 110 km in this still very young Bundesliga season. It’s safe to say that Thomas Tuchel’s credo isn’t the “Vollgasveranstaltung”.
A stat that will become of incredible value in this super straining season. Also, it’s pleasing to see that BVB get a greater reward for less effort. Efficiency. Borussia are becoming more mature and efficient under Thomas Tuchel, which should help a lot on the European stage as well.
Was it because Hannover 96 were rather ruthless in taking their chances or because they created chances that were hard to miss? Either way, Borussia Dortmund struggled to make the aforementioned dominance show on the football pitch, as the Sechsundneunziger managed to escape their grip too easily.
Borussia Dortmund looked very shaky in defense against Hannover, sometimes reminiscent of the last season. Sokratis Papastathopoulos must learn not to be drawn out of position. The Greek centre-back basically gifted Hannover the first goal by committing to a challenge in midfield of which he came out of as second winner.
Julian Weigl would have closed down Hiroshi Kiyotake, but instead he had to cover for his defender and thus everyone was horribly out of position. Mats Hummels didn’t cover himself in glory either in his attempt to defend Artur Sobiech’s second goal.
Obviously any side, that pushes as far up the pitch as Borussia Dortmund, will be susceptible to counter attacks, but the Black and Yellows unnecessarily invite their opponents to score goals. Hannover only played with three offensive players from the outset, but it was enough to score twice. Alarming – not to mention the set-piece defending, which looks hardly assured.
Offensively, BVB are undeniably on a roll. Again they scored four goals and created enough chances to score plenty more. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the pick off the litter with his half-volley from range. A beautifully construed goal, that perfectly describes Tuchel’s game plan. The Armenian is simply making the difference by netting goals like the 1-2.
A quick switch from the left made to the right found Matthias Ginter in acres of space, whose cut-back was struck mercilessly by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
BUT, we must not forget that Hannover’s centre-back Felipe apparently had a great interest in keeping the title race open for a bit longer, as he basically gifted Dortmund three of the four goals.
Admittedly, the first one was a very soft penalty, as Jonas Hofmann went down easily in the box. It probably was Hofmann’s best contribution to the game, which doesn’t speak for the offensive midfielder, as he looked pale overall. It might be added, that Dortmund were lucky not to concede a penalty at the other end, as Edgar Prib tripped over Hummels’ leg in the first half.
Though there wasn’t much to argue about the own goal or the second penalty, which was a clear hand ball by Felipe. Unfortunate for Hannover, who looked like they could grab at least a point throughout the match. Also, Matthias Ginter should receive credit for his two assists – while it’s Dortmund’s intention to play Ginter into space, the 21-year-old is making good decisions to pick out his crosses. If he manages to reach the same level defensively we can all be happy.
What looked really convincing is how BVB controlled the match at the end, letting Hannover not even near their own goal in the last 20 minutes by keeping the ball as well as they could. Keeping possession for the sake of control and dominance is a feature that is new and I like it a lot. How often did Dortmund drop deep in the dying minutes of a game waiting for a counter attack to kill the match off? Most of the time those counter attacks were very played too hectic and it invited the opponents for a couple of minutes of power player. The hosts would have certainly done the same on Saturday, but Tuchel’s side didn’t let them. I find that Borussia has gained maturity in that aspect as they are simply playing smarter.
Looking fine at the top – but for how long?
Now, Borussia Dortmund aren’t doomed, but the schedule has been beneficial. Borussia Mönchengladbach (who are in free fall), FC Ingolstadt, Hertha BSC and Hannover 96 aren’t teams Dortmund should lose against – and it’s very reassuring that they didn’t drop any points so far, but the next match against Bayer Leverkusen will probably be sterner test for the Black and Yellows.
Continuing this amazing winning streak after the international break was oh so important to keep the momentum going. Either way, it’s comforting to see that VfL Wolfsburg and Leverkusen dropped points once again for BVB to build a tiny cushion already. If it wasn’t for bizarre refereeing, even Bayern Munich would have dropped points that match day – but Dortmund fans can hardly complain about soft penalties this weekend.
As long as Ilkay Gündogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Shinji Kagawa keep their stunning form up, Borussia Dortmund cannot be contained. Even if the defense has its frailties, Dortmund’s attack is undeniably brilliant – netting at least thrice in the last six matches speaks for itself.