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How long will this be good?



How long will this be good?

Borussia Dortmund beat RB Leipzig 2-1 and extends their streak in the Bundesliga to eight straight wins. After a furious initial phase, however, Edin Terzic’s team lapsed into passivity, which should certainly be a cause for concern. How long will this be good?

Bad positional play in the BVB defense. Christopher Nkunku was free and on his way to make it 1-0 for the visitors. Three minutes were played. After three minutes, the top game could have taken a completely different turn. Dortmund would have been chasing a deficit, Leipzig’s strong first minutes would have been rewarded directly.

But things turned out differently. Nico Schlotterbeck, previously unfavorably positioned in the chain, switched quickly and managed to catch up with the Frenchman. The central defender started to tackle. A lot of risk, but also a lot of passion. Nkunku fell, the ball rolled wide. No foul, no complaints, rightly no penalty. Instead, a corner for Leipzig that brought nothing. Nobody knows how the game would have gone if Schlotterbeck hadn’t prevented the early goal with his outstanding tackle.

Dortmund got rolling, first scoring a goal that was disallowed and a few minutes later making it 1-0 from the penalty spot. It was BVB’s strongest phase in this game. Inspired by the emotions released by the Schlotterbeck tackle.

In such phases, Borussia Dortmund is reminiscent of the team that last brought the championship trophy to Borsigplatz. Between the third minute and Marco Reus’ goal to make it 1-0, Edin Terzic’s team developed a dynamism and pace that depressed Leipzig. Added to this were the fans who let themselves be carried away by this passion. A symbiosis that doesn’t exist in this form very often in Europe – and that triggers a feeling of invincibility. “Who will be German champions? BVB Borussia”, echoed through the Westfalenstadion shortly before the break.

BVB: Memories of Jürgen Klopp

Terzic brought that feeling back. How the players push each other and how they believe in themselves, all this is reminiscent of the great time under Jürgen Klopp, from whose shadow no other BVB team has been able to emerge. Small scenes are enough to emotionalize the whole team, even the whole stadium. For a moment everything is intoxicated. “Real love gives you wings” read the poster of a BVB fan. In fact, Borussia only flies through the year 2023.

There are now eight Bundesliga wins in a row. The coach has managed to create such momentum in the past. Borussia Dortmund ended the 2020/21 season with seven Bundesliga successes in a row – and the cup win. Reducing this to just luck doesn’t do justice to his achievement. Because even if some of these victories were lucky, the passion of BVB is currently unmistakable. They win games they would have lost before.

Terzic has achieved something that only a few BVB coaches have achieved before him: he showcases the strengths of his players in such a way that their weaknesses no longer play a major role, at least for the moment. For this he uses supposedly simple means. By putting players in roles that suit them well, he creates better team dynamics. Before his injury, Karim Adeyemi was the best example. In the first half of the season, the attacker often had to play on the right side, where he usually fell clearly. He was also significantly better on the left wing because he received significantly more support from the respective full-backs.

Terzic was also able to stabilize the shaky midfield by relying on two strong players in defense: Emre Can and Salih Özcan. Before that, Jude Bellingham is not hanging in the air because Julian Brandt moves into the center a lot from the right wing and thus also supports the build-up play. There are small changes that make BVB’s game a little smoother. Furthermore, Terzic seems to get the most out of every player on an individual level. In his current condition, Marius Wolf is very reminiscent of Kevin Großkreutz, who once played well above his actual level under Klopp.

BVB: More fragile than the results say

And yet BVB is more fragile than the current results say. The passion, the emotions, but above all the pace – all of that disappeared after Marco Reus scored the opening goal. Suddenly Dortmund played sluggishly and became increasingly passive against the ball instead of putting more pressure on Leipzig, who were now prone to errors. It became clear again how much was still missing from those Dortmunders who once celebrated great successes at Borsigplatz under Klopp.

It was only Can’s goal to make it 2-0 that briefly woke BVB up again and pulled it out of its lethargic phase. But the half-time whistle came too early. In the second round the passivity was back. Dortmund stood low, kept falling and let Leipzig have the ball. The guests gained more and more security and deservedly scored for the first time in the 74th minute. The shaking started. The stadium also became quieter. Not much was left of the emotions of the initial phase.

Dortmund had five of the eight goals in the first half, when possession was still balanced. At the end of the game, Leipzig had 62 percent possession, 17:8 shots and 2.4 expected goals. The penalty from Reus remained BVB’s greatest chance.

BVB: Problems that are currently hardly discussed

The second half should have been the black and yellow. The fact that Dortmund have problems making the game under Terzic is not new. The day before the ball is often too slow when the opponent is deep and is well organized there. But Leipzig stood up from the start and offered BVB a lot of space.

Terzic’s team is very strong in the transition game. They can make the game fast through Brandt, Bellingham and Reus. The problem, however, was that in the second half there were hardly any higher ball gains. Dortmund withdrew more and more, so the way forward became far too long. Leipzig had them under control. Terzic accepted this situation and even brought in a fifth defender in Mats Hummels.

It’s not the first time that Dortmund have shown two different faces within a game, that they switch from active attacking football to passive defensive football. BVB also showed too many uncertainties against Chelsea, ran into many counterattacks and was often too far away from their opponents defensively.

Dortmund is currently winning these games. This hides discussions about obvious problems. Also about the fact that Haller is not yet a big factor in the game. The center forward is currently not even getting two shots per 90 minutes. His team doesn’t get him involved properly. Even as a wall player, he can rarely shine. This is due to the fact that BVB gets over the wings early in ball possession phases and in offensive transition situations usually relies on the players who can sprint behind the opposing chain at high speed.

BVB: How long will that go well?

Not much could be seen of either element on Friday evening. “We had to tremble to the end,” said Reus on the microphone DAZN to: “In the end, I’d rather win than play well and lose.” The bill is currently going up.

In the final phase, however, Timo Werner had the equalizer on his feet. A scene that made narratives like that of Reus shake. His shot from close range would have ended up untenable in the far corner. But Schlotterbeck saved just before the line. Again Schlotterbeck, who had prevented the gap after just over three minutes.

It’s these scenes that stick in the memory of Friday night. Everyone for everyone and with a high willingness to suffer. Because BVB won again, this perspective, which focuses primarily on the emotional part of football, works. Terzic and his team are currently riding a wave of euphoria and success. Results are stable, although performance isn’t. And so the question must be allowed as to how long this will go well, how far this wave will carry it.

The fact is that with every victory comes a bit more self-confidence. On April 1st at the latest, when the showdown takes place in Munich’s Allianz Arena, you will see how far and how mature this BVB really is. Before that, the important game at Chelsea is scheduled for Tuesday evening. Until then, the feeling of invincibility will at least still exist – and the big dream of finally being able to celebrate a title at Borsigplatz again soon, as well.

BVB vs. FC Bayern: The rest of the program in the Bundesliga

Gameday BVB FC Bayern
23 RB Leipzig (H, 2: 1) VfB Stuttgart (A)
24 Schalke 04 (A) FC Augsburg (H)
25 1. FC Cologne (H) Bayer Leverkusen (A)
26 Bayern Munich (A) Borussia Dortmund (H)
27 Union Berlin (H) SC Freiburg (A)
28 VfB Stuttgart (A) TSG Hoffenheim (H)
29 Eintracht Frankfurt (H) Mainz 05 (A)
30 VfL Bochum (A) Hertha BSC (H)
31 VfL Wolfsburg (H) Werder Bremen (A)
32 Borussia M’Gladbach (H) Schalke 04 (H)
33 FC Augsburg (A) RB Leipzig (H)
34 Mainz 05 (H) 1. FC Cologne (A)