Dortmund dominated Saturday's clash against Borussia Mönchengladbach through individual talent that the home side couldn't hope to match. DW's Alex Chaffer reports from Borussia Park.
In what was a tight, tense and even game for the majority, the feel that a special moment, or special player(s) would be needed to separate the two sides was increasing as the minutes ticked on.
In a first-half of battle, which entertained rather than disappointed, Borussia Dortmund were the better side. The Bundesliga’s top scorer in the first half of the season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was sporting a less than impressive haircut, and matched it with uncharacteristic finishing.
He should certainly have scored twice in the first half with chances that were identical to each other from inside the Gladbach box – both being miss-hit with space and time to pick a spot. In the second half the Gabonese striker’s bad luck continued, but while Dortmund’s star of the first half of the season flustered, the other match-winners around him showed their worth.
Other stars come to the show
In defense, Mats Hummels answered his critics. The Gladbach counter-attack was beginning to work off its winter rust in the opening stages, but the German international was everywhere he needed to be to halt it.
Hummels is often caught-out in his style of play when he breaks out from defence attempting to win the ball higher up the pitch. The tactic can go one of two ways. Either retrieving the ball in good position, or leaving gaps to be exploited behind him.
Against Gladbach, the lion inside him looked to have been tamed. But when needed to let the cage open, he did. Lars Stindl was kept slient, while Raffael was forced wide in search of time on the ball. He did, though, show the talent he has in his style of play, breaking out of defence to tackle Ibrahima Traore, and begin the attack which lead to the game’s second goal, assisted by Ilkay Gündogan.
Gündogan was part of a midfield three, alongside a deeper Julian Weigl and Gonzalo Castro. The box-to-box man was able to exploit the space around him against Gladbach’s midfield pair of Mahmoud Dahoud and Havard Nordtveit. After hitting the crossbar with a rasping effort, he set-up the opening goal with a moment of class that the game was asking for.
Powering forward from midfield, Gündogan looked up and picked the right pass to Marco Reus, with other, equally as open options around him. In the second-half, it was a delight to watch. Mamoud Dahoud’s attempts to push on from his deep-lying midfield position were kept to a minimum by Gündogan, as well as Weigl. After Raffael had given the home side hope in making the score 1-2, Dortmund didn’t let the atmosphere around them take over.
Gündogan swept home a well -eserved goal of his own to cap-off his outstanding individual performance. A typical BVB counter-attack left Henrikh Mkhitaryan with time to pick out the oncoming Gündogan, who was steam rolling into the Gladbach box. A quick point ahead of him was all Gündogan needed to give Mkhitaryan, before he finished superbly into Yann Sommer’s bottom corner.
It wasn’t the return to Bundesliga action that Aubameyang had been hoping for, but while he faltered, those other names you should dare not to forget made up for it. Borussia Dortmund’s match-winners really did just that at Borussia Park.