Thursday, September 29, 2022

RB Leipzig 3-0 Borussia Dortmund: Talking points as Marco Rose gets off to great Leipzig start

Veselin Trajkovic in Bundesliga, Editorial 11 Sep 2022

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One of the major perks of football as a sport is how it can sometimes be completely unpredictable. It’s always easy to believe after a match that its result could’ve been guessed for this reason or that, but in reality, not many are capable of guessing when exactly an off-form team would get into its stride and start winning. And it’s even more difficult to predict that happening against a team which appears already there.

Be that as it may, RB Leipzig smashed Borussia Dortmund by 3-0, with two Hungary internationals, Willi Orban and Dominik Szoboszlai scoring in the 6th and 45th minute, respectively, and Amadou Haidara finishing off a swift counterattack in the 84th to make it three.

The Rose impact

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Both teams were deployed in the 4-2-3-1 shape. For Leipzig, Orban paired up with Paris Saint-Germain loanee Abdou Diallo in the heart of defence, flanked by David Raum on the left and Mohamed Simakan on the right. Konrad Laimer and Xaver Schlager were the two deep-sitting midfielders, and further up, Christopher Nkunku, Szoboszlai and Emil Forsberg supporter Timo Werner.

As for Dortmund, coach Edin Terzic named Anthony Modeste to lead the line upfront, supported by captain Marco Reus, Julian Brandt and Marius Wolf. Salih Ozcan and Jude Bellingham played deeper, and at the back, Niklas Sule stood beside Nico Schlotterbeck with Mats Hummels demoted to the bench, and the duo of Raphael Guerreiro and Thomas Meunier covering the flanks.

Given the form the two teams showed in previous matches this season, Dortmund would’ve been expected to win this match without sweating too much, but the appointment of Marco Rose seems to have made big difference. If there’s anyone who knows how to set a team up against Dortmund, it’ll be the man who was their boss last season.

The home side started off strongly in this match. Having come into it on the back of the poor form which eventually got former boss Domenico Tedesco sacked a few days ago, the desire to turn the season around straight away under Rose’s command was quite notable. They pressed high and dominated the contest completely for the first 15 minutes, and their early lead as Orban headed home from a Szoboszlai corner was more than deserved.

After a quarter of an hour, Dortmund got back into the game, with Bellingham getting on the ball more frequently and showing his ability to resist pressing. The young England international also tried to make things happen in front of Leizpig’s goal with smartly devised passes, but the home side defence was ready for it and mostly dealt with anything that came their way. All in all, Dortmund didn’t manage a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Timo Werner

Leipzig re-signed Werner from Chelsea for a reported fee of €20 million this summer, just two years after selling him to the Premier League club for more than €50m. The 26-year-old attacker never really hit it off at Stamford Bridge and was frequently left out of the starting XI by manager Thomas Tuchel. He pushed to return to his former club through the summer and eventually got his wish.

Werner is a forward who mostly relies on his pace to present a threat to the opposition goalkeeper, and in the Premier League, most defences play very deep, limiting the space a player like that needs to thrive. But in Germany, most play a high defensive line and that is where he obviously feels like a fish put back into the river, always hanging off the shoulder of the last defender and waiting for the right pass to take him through towards the goal.

There were plenty of such situations in this match and he really wreaked havoc for the Dortmund defence, cutting through them at pace and rushing towards Alex Meyer in the visitors’ goal. Had he shown more composure in certain moments, the victory could’ve been even more convincing in terms of scoreline.

As the visitors moved the balance of the game further from their goal, Werner looked more lively by the minute and his devastating counterattacking ability came to light. Time and again he caused the Dortmund back line to panic, and after he and Nkunku set Szoboszlai up for two chances the Hungarian midfielder failed to take, Werner broke infront of Meyer alone in the 43rd minute and had all the time in the world to pick a corner, but he ended up dragging his shot just wide.

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Fortunately for him, Szoboszlai showed his shooting ability just two minutes later, blasting one from just over 20 yards straight into the top corner. There was no chance whatsoever for Meyer to save that.

In the end he didn’t get on the scoresheet, but the last goal, tapped in by Haidara, showed exactly how dangerous he can be when the setup around him is right. It was Szoboszlai whose hard work paid off as he stole the ball in Dortmund’s half, and he sent it to Christopher Nkunku who in turn sent Werner through with his first touch. Werner easily skipped past Schlotterbeck and broke into the box before squaring it for the incoming Haidara, who had no problems slamming into the empty net from close range.

Regardless of one’s club affiliations, it’s nice to see a player whose quality was heavily doubted in the last two seasons finally back to his best. A bit more composure in his game, and he could really be tearing the Bundesliga up again quite soon.

The season ahead

Given everything we’ve seen in the Bundesliga since Dortmund’s triumph under Jurgen Klopp in 2012, it’s really hard to imagine any team that’s not Bayern Munich winning the title. At the moment, the Bavarians top the table on goal-difference, being on the same tally (12) as Hoffenheim, Freiburg and Dortmund, but Freiburg are yet to play at home against Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday and anything but a defeat would have them ahead again.

The race may seem exciting at this point, but we’ve been here before in the last 10 years. There were indeed seasons when Bayern struggled to shake off pursuit at this point, and were even behind one or two rivals, but they always managed to settle in properly and show that they are still the best team in the country by a mile. The rest of the pack, including Dortmund and Leipzig, will simply have to settle with finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League again.

For Leipzig, there is a long way to go to get even there. With this victory penciled in, they’re in 10th place with eight points. Luckily (from their point of view), the league is still very tight and nothing has been lost yet. Rose’s team won’t be too optimistic going to Madrid to face the Champions League holders in midweek, but after that, they must get a result away to Gladbach.

As for Dortmund, their task in the Champions League next week is no picnic either, having to face Manchester City at the Etihad, and after that, they face Schalke 04 in the Revierderby at the Signal Iduna Park. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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