Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund squad bounced back from a MatchDay 21 loss to Hamburg and a tough Tuesday draw in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk by beating a strong Eintracht Frankfurt club 3-0, as Dortmund star Marco Reus scored his second hat trick in the Bundesliga. Dortmund played without leading scorer Robert Lewandowski, sidelined by last week’s red card.
The Bundesliga holders have not been able to keep pace with a truly dominant Bayern Munich club this season, but Saturday’s victory was one of brilliance. Despite a good early showing from the visitors, Dortmund struck early, twice, as Reus netted first shooting low to Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp’s right following a short Gundogan pass to Götze, who flicked ahead to a rushing Reus cutting past defender Bamba Anderson. Dormund 1-0 after 7 minutes and 26 seconds of play.
Reus netted again in the 10th minute. This time, defender Mats Hummels provided, grounding a throughball to Reus streaking in from the left (looking edgily close to being offside). Number 11 in yellow and black calmly left-footed another low shot, this time between the legs of the forlorn Trapp, to give the home club a clinical 2-0 lead over a quality Frankfurt side that entered the match fourth in the table.
Despite continued scoring threat, hard luck visited BvB just past the half hour mark, though, when Lewandowski’s replacement, forward Julian Schieber, was harshly shown a second yellow card and exited the match. Dortmund hung on through the remainder of the match, keeping their 2-0 lead despite Eintracht Frankfurt having 61% of possession.
Despite being a man down, having just played a tough match on Tuesday and holding a 2-0 advantage over a talented squad, Dortmund Coach Jurgen Klopp had his squad in attack mode to begin the second half. The pressure on goal from Dortmund allowed Armin Veh’s eleven little chance to reap anything from their manpower advantage, being forced to defend, and following a flurry of attack, Reus notched his third goal in the 65th minute, with Götze again the creator. Kloppo’s strategy, bold and especially risky following two disappointing results in the last week, paid off as BvB captain Roman Weidenfeller earned a clean sheet without having to do much against a stifled Eintracht attack, with the most dangerous chance by Die Adler coming from a delicious late Sebastian Jung shot that kissed off of the BvB crossbar. The end result…a 3-0 win as Eintracht Frankfurt couldn’t duplicate their September comeback against Dortmund at the Commerzbank Arena.
Commentary: Kloppo the good shepherd
Jurgen Klopp is a man of deep religious faith. And his faith reveals itself in his self-confidence and man management, two traits that helped his team today, and will continue to lift them in the future. He is the good shepherd who nurtures self-belief and confidence in his very talented players, and who includes everyone in the fold.
Today Klopp’s self-confidence was evident in his unorthodox decision to press the attack during the second half of the match. Normally the expectation would be, given the situation when BvB kicked off the second half, an overwhelming emphasis on defensive structure in a “play it safe” mode to hold onto the 2-0 advantage and squeeze out a win during the final 45 minutes. Yet, Klopp did the opposite. His players pushed the attacking envelope, underscoring the maxim that ” the best defense is a good offense.” Dortmund didn’t surrender to conservatism, but instead “oozed vitality” (a term used by Klopp in a recent interview), leaving little time or energy for Eintracht Frankfurt to build a dangerous and effective attack. The move could have backfired easily enough — Die Adler are the fifth-highest scoring club in the league, and newcomer Srdjan Lakic scored a brace just two weeks again.
But the move worked. Klopp’s decision to continue emphasizing attack not only earned his team all three points but gave them an emotional lifeline after a tough week, a touchstone of renewed self-belief that can be summoned for their upcoming Pokal matchup against a superb Bayern side on January 27 and for their tricky Champions League second leg fixture against Donetsk on March 5. Given the impossibility of catching Bayern for the league title, these two upcoming fixtures loom large in BvB’s trophy quest.
And although Reus deservedly will be lauded for his goal-scoring heroics Saturday (three goals on four shots — now that’s finishing), every Dortmund player on the pitch contributed a very positive performance, with the exception of the ousted Schieber, who accomplished little in his half hour. So how does Klopp respond when the seldom-used striker approaches the bench following his ejection? Klopp gives him a big Kloppo-style bear hug. The prodigal son, forgiven, and appreciated. Klopp, who values the least among his brethren.
Sporting Director Michael Zorc and Klopp have built an impressive squad of highly talented individuals. While it is unreasonable to expect them to win the salad bowl every season, on the other hand Dortmund will continue to play sparkling, confident football as a real team, because their good shepherd guides them there.
Header courtesy of dpa & Marius Becker