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FEATURE | Bundesliga Review – Week 18: Borussia Dortmund showcase winning mentality with stunning comeback

The Bundesliga is back with a bang. Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Dortmund would have been the stand-out fixture before a ball was kicked, and it certainly didn’t let viewers down. Though played behind closed doors, the match was played at a great tempo and treated us to a five-goal thriller. With just a minute on the clock, Thomas Meunier nearly gave Dortmund the lead with a ferocious strike. Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp was called into action and tipped the ball onto the post. It’s not the first time Trapp has shone this season and is proving vital for his side this season.

14 minutes on the clock and the game had its first goal. Filip Kostić stood over the freekick and whipped in a dangerous cross that was met first time by Rafael Borré. The effort looked as if it was saved by Gregor Kobel before it dropped off the post and into the corner of the net. Though the strike was met with some force, Kobel should have kept this one out.

After the goal, Frankfurt were on top. Whatever Oliver Glasner did with his side over the winter break looked to have worked. Though Dortmund were sloppy in defence, Frankfurt were forcing mistakes and creating chances to double their lead. On the 23rd minute, that’s exactly what happened. The high press from Frankfurt forced yet another defensive mistake. Another excellent cross by Kostić was met by Kamada before being challenged by Reus who’s lack of urgency allowed Borré to steal the ball and score his second of the match. Quite simply calamitous defending. It’s not the first time this season that Dortmund’s defence has let them down and though it’s a new year, some things don’t seem to change. It’s a credit to their attacking players that they’re still within a chance of the title this season, but you can’t win trophies that way or be successful in the long run.

After the second, Frankfurt were in cruise control. It could have easily been three or four before the halftime whistle. First, Evan Ndicka hit the post from close range before Jesper Lindstrøm broke from within his own half only to hit the side netting. It was an outstanding first half by Frankfurt and in particular, Lindstrøm, who will be attracting the attention of several clubs from around Europe. Ultimately, however, the Eagles would be made to regret these missed chances. Right before the end of the half, Dortmund did give Frankfurt something to think about. After another great save from Trapp, Donyell Malen struck the post from point-blank range. If he shoots with his left foot, the Dutchman would have surely halved the deficit.

Just a minute into the second and Lindstrøm went on another fantastic run before finding himself one-on-one with Kobel in goal. The Danish international really should have scored but it was a great save nonetheless. A save which would prove to be vital come the final whistle.

With twenty minutes to go, Dortmund latched onto a loose ball as Erling Haaland played in Thorgan Hazard who snuck the ball just under Kevin Trapp in goal. It was a crucial time to score and you just felt that Frankfurt, who looked so in control in this one were all of sudden a bit more nervous. Perhaps with the lack of supporters to encourage the side on, this feeling was just that bit more heightened.

85 minutes were now on the clock and Dortmund were trying to find the equaliser. Having challenged Haaland in the box, the ball trickled out to Meunier who put in a delicious cross. Up leapt Jude Bellingham who scored his first headed goal in the Bundesliga. Sometimes crosses are impossible to deal with. Though the marking could have been slightly tighter, the accuracy of Meunier’s cross meant the young English international could do nothing but score.

It was backs against the wall for Frankfurt who were now holding on for a point. It’s always amazing to see how one team can completely change after they let in one goal. Just a few minutes later and a wave of yellow came forward once more. As Frankfurt were sitting off, Haaland was able to run towards the 18-yard box before ultimately being challenged by two defenders. The ball was immediately picked up by Mahmoud Dahoud who took one touch and from the edge of the box curled the ball into the corner. Comeback complete! Trapp could only stand and watch as the ball flew past him. Having been so comfortable in the first 45 minutes, Frankfurt had managed to completely throw the game away. Credit to Dortmund’s resilience but the questions lie with Frankfurt who will be disappointed with their attitude when they conceded the first goal.

The win for Dortmund could prove vital as they attempt to chase down Bayern who themselves lost this weekend. The gap is now just six points with plenty of football still to be played. Frankfurt, on the other hand, have slipped down to eighth but are still just three points off Leverkusen in fifth.

For a first time in a long time, Borussia Dortmund showcased a winning mentality. It was a brilliant game for neutrals and another great advert for the Bundesliga. If this is what the Bundesliga has in store for us in 2022, we’re in for a treat.

 

1 | Bayern Munich had nine first team players missing after they tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of their trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach to kickstart the Rückrunde on Friday night. That meant Marcel Sabitzer playing an unfamiliar role at left-back, Joshua Kimmich reverting to right-back and Bayern II midfielder Malik Tillman starting. On the bench was Arijon Ibrahimović (16), Lucas Copado (17), Bright Arrey-Mbi (18), Nemanja Motika (18) & Jamie Lawrence. Paul Wanner (16) came on in the second-half to become the youngest player to feature in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring inside 20 minutes and it looked like normal service would be resumed, but goals from Florian Neuhaus and Stefan Lainer four minutes apart gave Gladbach a 2-1 lead. Just six points now separate the leaders and Borussia Dortmund.

2 | After starting their campaign with just one win in their opening five games this season, Hoffenheim are starting to find their feet and have been, somewhat quietly, climbed the table. Ihlas Bebou scored twice before David Raum added a third in stoppage time as TSG put three past Augsburg on Saturday, climbing into third and a Champions League place. They have of course played UCL football before under Julian Nagelsmann back in 2018, but this club has entered a new era now under Sebastian Hoeneß. After almost retiring due to a serious injury, 23-year-old midfielder Dennis Geiger has shone this season and whilst Andrej Kramarić hasn’t found his goalscoring form we’re used to seeing, the Croatian’s new role allows Bebou, Munas Dabbur and Georginio Rutter to play. Hoffenheim have a strong chance of finishing in the top four.

3 | Steffen Baumgart is always quick to downplay the fact that FC Köln could return to European football this season for the first time since 2017, but the fact that the Billy Goats are sixth and two points off a Champions League spot has sent their fans into euphoria, as is often the case in the cathedral city. Anthony Modeste opened the scoring against Hertha Berlin with his ninth headed goal of the season, the Frenchman has scored the most headed goals in Europe’s top five leagues this campaign. Ondrej Duda scored from range against his former side before Vladimir Darida’s free-kick went all the way through, giving Hertha some hope but Jan Thielmann added a third in stoppage time for Köln. “We know to put things into perspective,” said Baumgart at his presser.

4 | Sunday’s trip to Bochum was a chance for Wolfsburg to get back to winning ways but Florian Kohfeldt’s side slumped to a sixth consecutive league defeat. Bochum midfielder Miloš Pantović scored the only goal of the game that sees Wolfsburg now sit just two points above the relegation play-off. “To lose the game in the situation we’re in is typical, unfortunately,” said Kohfeldt. Wolfsburg host Hertha Berlin next weekend before a trip to Leipzig.

Jamie Allen & Daniel Pinder

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