When flowing Dortmund are arguably unmatched in attacking prowess, but they’ll never surpass Bayern if they remain as wasteful as they are.
Jürgen Klopp described his side’s performance at Borrusia-Park as “an extraordinarily good away game”. And yet Borrusia Dortmund came up second best in the “Burrusenderby” on Saturday, by a margin of two goals to nil. Dortmund had supposedly played a game at a level above the norm, even defeating the realms of possibility in Klopp’s analysis, and yet, they were not only unable to penetrate the Mönchengladbach goal, but were loose enough at the back to have their own 18 yard box twice infiltrated in the final ten minutes, leading to the only two goals of the match.
Which begs the question, what constitutes a great game? What merits an extraordinary away game if one can occur in a 2-0 loss? If the quality of a performance is only determined by what occurs in the attacking frontier, more specifically build up play and the creation of chances, then yes, Dortmund had a superb day. In fact the Black and Yellows rarely don’t. But a football match consists of so much more. Clinically in front of goal, ruthlessness and defensive security hold just as much, if not more, weighting to a game; perhaps more so than Klopp would like to think. And that, annoyingly so, is where Dortmund meet their problems.
It may be harsh to pick holes from Saturday’s shenanigans. One could argue it was a freak performance, one that won’t happen again soon and one, which just needs to be forgotten about. Matts Hummels claimed the game was a contender for the most unfortunate and underserved defeats. But is it that irregular? No one doubts their attacking creativity, fluidity, and ability on their day, but there is a feeling that Dortmund could make better use of their chances at times. It may not be a strikingly clear problem when they’re thrashing sides, as they did Freiburg the week before. But even then, they only converted just over a sixth of their shots to goals, and just over a third of their shots on target. It certainly is an issue, and for all the plaudits they get for their attacking football, if they want to catch up with all conquering Bayern, it’s something they need to improve.
For much of the game, the general feeling was of when Dortmund would score, not if. There seemed to be an overarching feeling of enjoyment at the play, and not the real ruthlessness and desire to get the opening goal. Hummels fired a close range shot straight at the keeper, Aubameyang had a shot across goal pushed too wide, another a through ball from Reus he pushed too close to the byline when trying to get around the goalie. There was a general sense of Dortmund trying to do too much, trying to be too cute, and not enough of a ruthless desire.
Marco Reus was once again the perpetrator of all things good for Dortmund on the weekend, but he’ll have left his former home wondering how he failed to score himself, let alone how his side left without adding to their goals for tally. Reus is phenomenal; he has all the skill and qualities needed for a modern day forward. An ability to run at defenders with pace is combined with a sense for space and a great eye for a pass, all of which is rounded off with a stunning shot, which possess great power, thrilling curve and a vast long range threat. He has all the makings of a young Cristiano Ronaldo – in fact the German had a better goals per game record than the Portuguese had at their respective 18-21 years. Ronaldo was able to rectify a slightly erratic streak for a more efficient accumulation of goals and assists. It remains to be seen whether Reus can do likewise. Certainly the talent of something special is there. The finished product? Not quite.
Bayern were only able to grab a draw at Leverkusen that evening, who themselves dominated a game but failed to convert enough of their chances to goals, meaning Dortmund’s slip up wasn’t too costly – they now sit a point behind Bayern. But it will also create a sense of missed opportunity. The way this Bayern side has operated since the start of last season – last week was a far more freak occurrence for Bayern than it was for Dortmund’s – they may not get many chances to rectify it.