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Margin and manner of victory

Jonathan HardingFebruary 7, 2015

Dortmund's win in Freiburg was, all things considered, the most important win for BVB this year. Jonathan Harding doesn't want to get too hasty, but it felt like a turning point.

Bundesliga Freiburg vs Dortmund 07.02.2015 Reus
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U. Deck

The last time Dortmund won was against Hoffenheim at the beginning of December. The early stages of the Freiburg game had the same high pressing and sense of collective urgency that was on show on that Friday night at the end of 2014. It also had plenty of chances that Dortmund spurned. It looked like it was going to go the same story for Klopp and his boys.

But it wasn't. Dortmund were more aggressive, used the space afforded to them more effectively and embraced an in-game growth in confidence.

Right from the opening minute - in which Marco Reus spurned a great chance to score - the front four of Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kevin Kampl and Shinji Kagawa hunted down Freiburg's backline like heat-seeking missiles. Forgive the simile, but it has been a long time since Dortmund pressed this aggressively and got it right. They moved across as a unit, with the player at the tip sprinting hard to close down the man in possession. Against a slow Freiburg defense, Dortmund's attacking approach was spot on. Well done Jürgen.

This pressure had a knock-on effect: Freiburg crumbled to hand Dortmund a couple of goals. While their efforts had something to do with it, Dortmund were also dealt some luck, which after conceding nine goals due to individual errors this season is not something we can begrudge them (really).

More important than speed and pressing was Dortmund's (slightly) improved composure. Dortmund's decision to be confident was on show even before Reus scored - Ilkay Gündogan took more shots, Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels regularly charged forward to win the ball higher up the pitch and Aubameyang had a few audacious attempts on goals. Scoring regularly in between a hatful of chances, Dortmund's belief grew to an almost visible extent.

It's true that scoring early impacted the result, but scoring more than once cemented BVB's belief. A 1-0 win in their current mental state would have been enjoyed, but given the fragile nature of all those involved and the fact that Dortmund had yet to score in 2015 before the game, the margin of victory is not to be underestimated.

In fact, none of this should be underestimated. Considering the pressure, Klopp's tactics and the players' efforts were commendable. Dortmund could easily have lost this game, but the manner of their third goal suggests that, unlike their last win, this will be a key moment in their season. It was a counterattack of old, something plucked out of that legendary Champions League run in 2013 - as was the passion on show during the celebration.

Klopp wants his team to enjoy this win. It wasn't a cup final or a title-winning game, but it feels like a season-saving one. I know, it's only one game but all things considered, this was their best performance of the season and it came at the toughest time.

"Everyone of our players has shown on dozens of occasions just what qualities they possess," said club chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke before kick off. After a few months of soul searching, they, Klopp perhaps included, finally did. Mainz at home followed by Stuttgart away should set them up nicely for the derby against Schalke. By then, the confidence level could be back to the black-and-yellow swagger that the Bundesliga misses.