Monday, May 27, 2024

Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Atletico Madrid: Talking points as BVB overturn Madrid deficit to reach Champions League semifinals

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Despite losing the first leg in Spain, Borussia Dortmund have booked a place in the Champions League semifinals at the expense of Atletico Madrid.

The Bundesliga side took the lead through Julian Brandt in the 34th minute and Ian Maatsen doubled it five minutes later. Atletico responded after the break with a Mats Hummels own-goal and a nice finish from substitute Angel Correa set the score on the night level. However, it was Niclas Fullkrug (71′) and Marcel Sabitzer (74′) who settled the tie in favour of Dortmund.

The game

It was no surprise to see Dortmund start the match with attacking intent, but it was perhaps a bit unexpected that Atletico didn’t exactly go into it with the intention to “close shop”, particularly with the fact in mind that Diego Simeone named a five-man back line to start. Within four minutes, both teams had a great chance to break the deadlock, but Dortmund’s Marcel Sabitzer was a bit too slow to react at six yards and allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to block his shot from there, while Alvaro Morata had a sudden one-on-one situation with Gregor Kobel in the Dortmund goal, only to chip the ball wide of the post.

But Dortmund gradually increased the volume and applied plenty of pressure around the half-hour mark, and it bore fruit as Hummels set Brandt up with a lovely pass and Brandt fired past Jan Oblak to send his team ahead. Only five minutes later, Maatsen burst into the box from the left and beat the Atletico goalkeeper again from a similar position.

Dortmund appeared on their way to win the game as they brought the first half to a somewhat calmer end with a two-goal advantage, but straight from the restart, Atletico hit hard, and it paid off as Hummels diverted a Mario Hermoso header past his own goalkeeper. Given the result from the first leg, the two teams were back where they started.

The gloves were off at that point and as each battled to impose control over the other, in the 56th minute, Angel Correa, who replaced Morata at the break, had a glorious chance to equalize on the night and put the La Liga side ahead on aggregate. It was Koke who set up his attacker, but Correa’s toe-poke went inches wide of the post with Kobel practically beaten.

However, Correa’s moment was yet to come, as he later finished off a scramble in Dortmund’s box by slamming into the net from close range.

Dortmund boss Edin Terzic reacted to this unwelcome development by withdrawing Karim Adeyemi, who didn’t have a great game, and sending on Jamie Bynoe-Gittens in his place. His team obviously went in search of another goal, and after several minutes of strong pressure on the Atletico defence, Fullkrug got in front of Jose Gimenez to restore Dortmund’s lead, and it took just three minutes more for Sabitzer to make up for the early miss and score his team’s fourth goal on the evening.

Fullkrug came close to doubling his tally with 10 minutes left on the clock and missed, but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Dortmund deservedly through

As has been said, Atletico played a relatively open game, which was a surprise given that they traveled to Germany with a one-goal lead. Simeone is known his ability to organize the Rojiblancos defensively to perfection, and rarely does he fail to close the game down and kill its pace when his team have a result they deem suitable.

But such an approach obviously suited Dortmund, who prefer a fluid and more open game, and in front of the full Signal Iduna Park, they made the visitors pay for their apparent desire for a lively contest. Not only did Terzic’s side enjoy more possession (52%), but they also took more shots (19-10, on target 9-3), had a greater passing accuracy percentage and took more corners, while committing fewer fouls.

Dortmund’s place in next season’s edition of the Champions League is currently uncertain. They sit fifth in the Bundesliga with the tally of 56, the same as RB Leipzig, and the race for top four placement will be fierce for the remaining five rounds. Their continued presence in the Champions League may prove a hindrance in that aspect, but reaching the semifinals of this competition is naturally a great achievement in its own right.

Meanwhile, Atletico will now fully focus on their La Liga campaign, and they’re in a slightly better situation than Dortmund on that front. At the moment, Simeone’s side are fourth with 61 points, four more than Athletic Bilbao in fifth and as many less than Girona in third.

Dortmund’s last step before the final will be to face Paris Saint-Germain, the team they beat to the top spot in Group F, though they lost in the French capital in September, before drawing at home in mid-December. PSG also made a comeback after losing the first leg of the quarterfinals at home to Barcelona, by beating the Catalans comprehensively at the Estadi Olympic Lluis Companys.

The first leg of the semifinal will take place at the Signal Iduna Park on the last day of April, and the second at the Parc des Princes on May 7th.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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