Manuel Veth –
Borussia Dortmund pass the test of character against Atlético Madrid was the headline on the Futbolgrad Network following Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico. Dortmund may have defeated Atlético Madrid 4-0, but while the scoreline was decisive, the match was a true character test for a relatively inexperienced side.
Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico – Patient approach pays off
The first half highlighted the characters of the two sides. Whereas Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side stormed out of the gate and tried to pressure Dortmund deep into their half Dortmund were more measured and careful.
At the same time, the Yellow and Blacks were also more patient. Quick in the transition through midfield, Dortmund looked to settle the ball once in Atletico’s defensive third.
Once settled in the attacking third Dortmund played the ball around to either find an opening to play the killer pass or a channel to score. It was the sort of approach that made Atlético look like the more aggressive team and to the naked eye perhaps also the more dominant of the two squads on the field.
In reality, however, Dortmund had the better chances and then, just before halftime, managed to score the opening goal. That goal by Axel Witsel in the 39′ minute was classic Favreball. Passing the ball around Witsel saw an opening, and although he was lucky to have his shot deflected, it was exactly the sort of play head coach Lucien Favre wants to see from his team.
Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico – Mario Götze starts
No Paco Alcacer, no problem. Instead, Lucien Favre revived the Marco Reus-Mario Götze tandem. The two mates got the start and collectively filled the hole up-front by constantly switching positions.
Overall, it may not have been the return of the old Mario Götze quite yet. But there are encouraging signs that Götze could regain his form of old under head coach Favre, who seems willing to work with the 26-year-old.
Although Götze seemed somewhat lost playing as a lone-number 9 up front, he was dangerous whenever dropping deeper down the field. Those movements allowed the wingers and Reus to press forward into the space created by Götze.
— Stefan Buczko (@StefanBuczko) October 24, 2018
Exemplary is the pass Götze played to Achraf Hakimi ahead of Dortmund’s fourth goal. Dropping deep Götze unleashed his teammate, who then ultimately assisted Jadon Sancho for BVB’s fourth goal.
Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico – BVB’s youth pass the character test
Achraf Hakimi (19), Dan-Axel Zagadou (19) and Abdou Diallo (22) were three of the four defenders Favre started against Atlético Madrid. In defence, only right-back Lukasz Piszczek (33) had significant Champions League experience in Dortmund’s lineup.
Added to the two teenagers in the back four were the two 20-year-old wingers Christian Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen. In the second half, Favre added 18-year-old Jadon Sancho to the mix.
Despite all the youth Dortmund, however, were able to stand the ground against one of the toughest opponents in European football. The back four, in particular, was impressive in the first 15 minutes of the second half in which Atlético pressed for the equaliser.
Hanging on Dortmund, however, passed that character test with flying colours and ultimately dismantled the Spaniards. Then towards the end of match one scene, in particular, stood out. Diego Costa looking for a fight was talked down by the 19-year-old Zagadou, towering over the Spanish striker, Zagadou made it clear to Costa that tonight he had been bested in every aspect.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.