There is a saying that may explain Borussia Dortmund these days: diamonds only can be created under pressure. Thomas Tuchel’s squad needs pressure to be good. That was and has been the motto for the first half of the 2015/16 season.
Fans should be glad that the annoying group-stage of the Europa League is finally over. It seemed that Dortmund could not perform consistently with the necessary concentration. The results were three wins (two against Gabala and Krasnodar), one draw against Saloniki and two losses against Krasnodar and again Saloniki – enough to reach the knockout rounds, but it was not BVB’s best performance.
Indeed, Dortmund will have to face FC Porto in the knockout round, a draw that feels like the Champions League. No, I do not think drawing Porto is necessarily a heavy burden. I am just glad that the group stage with the no-pressure-matches are over.
Six in a row
In the Bundesliga on Sunday, Dortmund was able to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4:1 on Sunday. For some people, this win may be considered normal. For others (like me), it was a demonstration of the announced evolution of Borussia Dortmund.
What do I mean?
Frankfurt played in the defence with six defenders in a row. In the past, Dortmund has had problems breaking down such defensive systems. But not on Sunday. Tuchel’s team used space in the center, led by Hummels and Bender as the architects of the attacks. Together with the center-players and full-backs, Hummels and Bender created a majority of BVB’s on-target attempts. It felt like the next step.
Once again, it was obvious that Borussia Dortmund has played with more versatility this season and can react effectively successfully to ultra-defensive-systems with six defenders in a deep bank.
Mats Hummels’ period of weakness seems over, finally. The captain really improved and was one of the best players on the pitch against Eintracht. Some in the press even called him “man of the match.” No doubt Mats Hummels was a key player offensively and even scored a goal. He was good on a day when almost every BVB player was good.
In my opinion, Sunday’s best players were Shinji Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro. Kagawa was substituted on for the injured Marco Reus and became the main figure in midfield. With his mobility and creativity, Kagawa was too hard for the Frankfurt defenders to control. Gonzalo Castro is more and more becoming a part of the starting XI.
Of course, there was one tragic moment in the match, as Marco Reus is injured again. On Monday, it was reported that Reus should already begin taking his Christmas holiday. Reus’ injury history deserves its own article. It seems now that his adductors are injured. He probably will be fit for the training camp in January at least.
There are two little pieces left in the winter-puzzle of Borussia Dortmund.
On Saturday, they will face Cologne. However, before this final Hinrunde match, there will a real struggle in the round of the last sixteen of the DFB-Pokal when BVB faces FC Augsburg.
The Bavarians proved with a 3:1 wonder in Partizan and a 2:1 late win against Schalke on Sunday that they are back. No doubt it will be the most thrilling match of this round in the Pokal. Augsburg endured a really hard crisis that seems to have come to an end now. Their squad is filled with experienced players like Feulner, Trochowski, Altintop and Boabdilla and a lot of talent. It won’t be easy. It will be a match with two teams full of self-esteem. There is one good thing about the Augsburg match. BVB has pressure. And BVB only works best under pressure.
My prediction? 3:2 for Borussia after extra time!
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