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Borussia Dortmund players absorb defeat in Freiburg
Dortmund's defeat in Freiburg was a repeat result of last season's gameImage: Hansjürgen Britsch/Pressefoto Baumann/imago images

Bundesliga: Freiburg prove a thorn in Rose's side

August 21, 2021

Borussia Dortmund didn’t turn up in the Black Forest, outfought and outthought by a superior Freiburg side. Marco Rose’s dream start last weekend has quickly faded away – and he already has problems to fix.


Freiburg 2-1 Borussia Dortmund, Schwarzwald Stadion
(Grifo 6', Sallai 53' — Keitel og 59')

Borussia Dortmund's 5-2 opening day pummeling of Eintracht Frankfurt seems like a long time ago.

Dortmund have lost twice since then and this defeat, a sting on the road in the Black Forest against Freiburg, will hurt more than the midweek loss to Bayern in the German Supercup.

Everything that made last weekend's victory in Frankfurt so exhilarating – Erling Haaland's callous finishing, Marco Reus' dynamism – were absent. It was only an own goal in the second half that offered Dortmund any hope in a game that they were outplayed in every department.

Under the beating summer sun in front of 10,000 fans, Freiburg were superb in this, their third-last game at their iconic Schwarzwald Stadion before starting life at a state-of-the-art arena adjacent to the city's airport. Vincenzo Grifo set the tone just six minutes in, rifling in a wonderous freekick from distance. By the time Roland Sallai lashed in from close range to cap a silky Freiburg move, the writing was on the wall for Dortmund.

Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose looks on as his side fall to defeat by Freiburg
No answer: Rose's Dortmund suffered their first league defeat of the seasonImage: G. Hubbs/Beautiful Sports/imago images

Dortmund lack creativity

On paper, it promised to be another day of breathless attacking from Dortmund. Haaland, Reus and Donyell Malen, handed a first Bundesliga start since his move from PSV, all struggled to have any impact. But that's because Dortmund just didn't create anything for their key attackers – and Freiburg made sure of it. Usually so dynamic and inventive, Dortmund were ponderous and uncertain.

The curious thing for Dortmund is that they didn't struggle to create chances, but when they did they fell to the wrong player. Jude Bellingham headed against the post and missed from close range after a mazy run – he was lively again – but Dortmund couldn't find a way to involve their abundance of attacking quality.

Freiburg's players celebrate victory over Dortmund with their fans
This was a magical win for Freiburg, who will soon move to a new stadium.Image: G. Hubbs/Beautiful Sports/imago images

Of course, it's early days in the season. Volatility is to be expected from Dortmund, who are only three games into the Marco Rose era. Freiburg, who have become so hard to beat in recent years, are entering their 11th season with Christian Streich at the helm. They have evolved into one of the best organized teams in the Bundesliga and Rose, on this occasion, simply didn't have the game plan to trouble them. For Streich, it's a repeat of last season's result against the same opponents.

Rose switches things up

Rose showed a willingness to make a change early when things aren't working out, replacing the dysfunctional Nico Schulz with Raphael Guerreiro – a sign for the whole team that Rose won't hesitate to shake things up when standards aren't being met.

With Freiburg able to reflect on a solid start to the season with four points from a possible six, the signs are good for them again. Meanwhile, the black and Yellows will now look to the visit of Hoffenheim next weekend as a chance to make amends before the international break kicks in. Rose knows he must learn fast.

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