Borussia Dortmund overcame a relentless Union Berlin side 2-1 to usher Die Eisernen out of the Bundesliga title race. With both sides coming off the back of damning defeats in the DFB-Pokal during the week; regaining focus on the Meisterscharle was of the highest priority.
A jaded opening to the game was quickly forgotten when Raphaël Guerreiro drilled in a perfect cross for Donyell Malen, who gladly tapped home to give Der BvB the lead. However, this lead would be wiped out on the hour mark as a direct ball found Kevin Behrens, whose header was returned by Sheraldo Becker, as the German striker fired the ball past Gregor Kobel to level the tie. As Union began to take the upper hand a loose ball was latched onto by Youssoufa Moukoko to put Dortmund back in the lead and record a vital three points in the title race.
Borussia Dortmund can not let Raphaël Guerreiro go
Raphaël Guerreiro’s time in the North Rhine-Westphalia has been anything but straightforward. Since joining in 2016 from Lorient in Ligue 1, Guerreiro has struggled to find consistency with his attacking prowess constantly being overlooked by his shortcomings in defence. However, the Portuguese international faces a dilemma of whether to leave or stay at Dortmund this summer with his contract running out. However, Dortmund can not allow Guerreiro to leave without fighting for his renewal. So far this season, he has 14 goal contributions which has resulted in him recording his second-most productive season for the Black and Yellows.
While the all-but-confirmed signing of Ramy Bensebaini looks to have ruled Guerreiro out of a role at left-back, Edin Terzić has begun toying with the idea of converting him into Dortmund’s midfield. His performances in his newfound position have seen Guerreiro become a pivotal player in Terzić’s side, adding a new dynamic to how Dortmund play. While Marius Wolf was sidelined with sickness for this game, Guerreiro was forced back into left-back and the confidence he has built was reflected in his performance. An attacking impetus with phenomenal ball progression saw him involved with everything positive for Dortmund. An assist for the first goal as well as a vital tackle to deny Sheraldo Becker from giving Union the lead highlights the player Dortmund have and a player they can not let go of.
Union Berlin need to find a spark
Union Berlin came into this clash at the Westfalenstadion third in the league with a chance of leapfrogging Dortmund into second. They were also able to boast about having the best defensive record in the Bundesliga. While it is clear that Urs Fischer sets his side out to frustrate the opposition and counterattack in an effective manner, as for how much longer Union can be so efficient in the final third is up for debate. They have an expected goals of 29.4, which surrounds them with clubs such as Schalke and Bochum. With these two sides filling up the automatic relegation places in the Bundesliga, this is no reflection of an Union Berlin side in third place. However, this game highlighted an issue that has been plaguing this side for far too long.
Creativity is perhaps the one downfall of this Union side and this can be reflected in their Xg and their performance against Dortmund. Having failed to create any chances of note besides the goal by Kevin Behrens, Union needed to show more of a spark if they wanted to return to the capital with at least a point. They have now failed to score a first-half goal in the Bundesliga since the fourth of February, and while they look to cement a place in the Champions League for next season, this summer could prove pivotal in their development. More creativity is needed in this side, as finding inspiration from somewhere in high-stakes matches seems to be missing for Die Eisernen.
Youssoufa Moukoko is Borussia Dortmund’s future
With Jude Bellingham often referred to as the best young player at Dortmund – and in the whole of the Bundesliga – it is easy to forget about Youssoufa Moukoko. His accolades so far consist of being the youngest scorer in Bundesliga history and also the youngest player to get to ten Bundesliga goals. He is also the youngest player to score in the Revierderby and Der Klassiker. At the age of 18, Borussia Dortmund have a player on their hands that can take them to the next level.
Having signed a new contract with Der BVB until the summer of 2026, Dortmund have the ability to build a side around their young prodigy. Having just returned from an injury that has seen him miss nearly two months off football, he emphasised his importance to this side with a goal that could prove to be the difference in the title race. While players such as Bellingham and Julien Brandt failed to take the game to Union in a way they would have been expected to, it was Moukoko to save the day. If he can avoid injuries in the future, he could soon replace Sebastian Haller as Dortmund’s main number nine, and some may say he already deserves the starting spot.
GGFN | Will Shopland