The 2-2 against VfL Wolfsburg was a great game. Lots of scoring opportunities on both ends, while the Borussia Dortmund supporters once again created a special atmosphere for the last game of 2014 at the Westfalenstadion.
The black and yellows once again showed their positive home form, although they couldn’t see out their 2-1 lead from the 76th minute – but who knew this Naldo guy would be so good at headers? One man stood out in particular: Ciro Immobile.
Finally, one might say, as last seasons Serie A top scorer (who received the Capocannoniere award earlier this week with 22 gems, each representing one goal he scored for Torino) has not lived up to his €19.4 million fee just yet. At least not in the Bundesliga, where he only scored three goals so far. In the Champions League, his four goals in five games were vital for Dortmund’s group victory.
After half a season, the Italian striker is just slowly finding his way into the Bundesliga. But as it is with Adrian Ramos, it is tough to judge Dortmund’s strikers, as the summer signings suffer the most under BVB’s shocking run of form.
“Under normal circumstances, we usually play in similar formations and then implement new signings step by step. That wasn’t possible this year,” coach Jürgen Klopp has explained.
“We are working with Ciro for weeks now to change the way he makes his runs, because Serie A and Bundesliga are very different in style and strikers have to behave differently. A lot of teams fall back very quickly and if a striker drops back into midfield, he’ll find a lot of space to gain self-assurance, but if you do the same in Germany and start to dribble in midfield, the probability of becoming a pressing-victim is very high. Yet, those runs were very deep-seated and we had to make it clear to him, that we don’t need him in this zone, but a target-man, a central player, who can make runs behind the last line.”
In other words, there is still a lot of work to be done on the training ground before Immobile will fully adapt to Klopp’s idea and fully unfold his potential. That should not come as a shock to anyone who has been following Borussia Dortmund for a longer time.
Yet, against Wolfsburg, Immobile’s form hinted strongly where this is all going. His cracking goal in the 76th minute, smashing it past Diego Benaglio from just outside the box, was the pinnacle of a lively performance. Yes, he could have done better when he was free in front of Benaglio in the first half, but let’s take solace in the fact he didn’t pull a Henrikh Mkhitaryan and got the monkey off his back later in the game. More importantly, his positioning is improving and he is in the areas where he gets his opportunities.
Would we judge him on solely on stats so far this season, we had to question the transfer, but given the circumstances, it would be a big mistake to write Ciro Immobile off.