Three things we learned as Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages

Borussia Dortmund overcame AC Milan 3-1 at the San Siro to ensure they will qualify for the Champions League knockout stages F. However, after a lightning start, Dortmund would be caught counting their lucky stars for finding themselves in an early lead. Olivier Giroud missed the chance to put the hosts ahead as Gregor Kobel’s save from the spot offered Dortmund a lifeline. Then, just four minutes later, BvB took full advantage. This time it would be the Black and Yellows with a spot kick, which Marco Reus duly dispatched to give Dortmund a 1-0 lead. However, a wonderful Samuel Chukwueze solo goal left Dortmund stunned as the game remained level heading into the break.

Nevertheless, despite an all-action first half, the momentum of the game settled down after the interval. With Milan failing to capitalise on their goal, Dortmund would put the game to bed. Goals from Bynoe-Gittens Karim Adeyemi silenced the San Siro, as the Rossoneri’s toothless attack ultimately leaves them rooted to the bottom of Group F. As for Dortmund, qualification is guaranteed, and they can look forward to their home tie against PSG to ensure that top spot in Group F will be theirs.

Gregor Kobel deserves more protection

While Dortmund are yet to impress on a consistent basis so far this season, they have been able to rely upon moments of individual genius to get them over the line. Quite often, this has seen Marco Reus, Donyell Malen, or Julian Brandt step up to the occasion.

However, someone who has not received the plaudits that they deserve is that of Gregor Kobel. At times this season, the Swiss shot-stopper has single-handedly kept Dortmund alive and kicking in games they should have been blown away in. Once again in Milan, Kobel came to Dortmund’s rescue with a phenomenal penalty save to deny Olivier Giroud.

However, there is only so much the 25-year-old can do, and with such a porous backline in front of him, he will undoubtedly be unable to save everything. While it was a victorious night for Dortmund, if they are to compete for silverware this season, then Terzić has to reorganise his defensive unit, as with Kobel in goal, they are letting down one of the world’s best goalkeepers.

Edin Terzić needs to utilise his young talent

With experienced players coming to the fold for Dortmund this season, the likes of Giovanni Reyna, Youssoufa Moukoko, and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens have had to settle for a place on the bench. Nevertheless, Terzić’s side have underwhelmed consistently, leaving many to suggest that those who had moments of brilliance last season have been underutilised this campaign.

Against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, Bynoe-Gittens was the saviour for Dortmund, and this would continue over to their clash in Milan. The 19-year-old was the shining star for Die Schwarzgelben, who remained a constant danger throughout after winning his side an early penalty before reinstating Dortmund’s lead.

With BvB struggling to string together positive performances, it will be a question of why Moukoko and Reyna have been unable to see more game time this season. While for Bynoe-Gittens, after another notable performance, a question of when he will become one of the first names on Terzić’s starting XI will be on the lips of the Dortmund faithful.

Dortmund’s fullback issue is clear

Last season, Borussia Dortmund came within 90 minutes of dethroning Bayern Munich, while they would be eliminated from the Champions League in unfortunate fashion by Chelsea. They were at times a force to be reckoned with, and a lot of their success could be associated with the quality they had out wide.

The impact Terzić’s fullbacks had, especially in the Rückrunde, was a significant reason why they were able to become such a dominant force domestically and on the continent. However, with Raphaël Guerreiro departing to Bayern Munich and Marius Wolf experiencing a downturn in form, Dortmund have lost their spark in these areas.

Against Milan, Julian Ryerson and Ramy Bensebaini were unable to complete one successful cross from the six attempted, while they were nowhere to be seen at times defensively. With Die Schwarzgelben identifying the requirement to improve in their fullback department in January, whether they look to add quality, especially after showing interest in Ferdi Kadıoğlu, will have to be seen.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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