Manuel Veth –
Köln v Dortmund – August, 23 – Bundesliga, RheinEnergieStadion, Köln
Borussia Dortmund quickly took control of possession but struggled to create many goalscoring opportunities early on. Instead, it was Köln that did more with the ball when they had it and appeared to be more dangerous going forward. As a result, it took until the 23rd minute for Dortmund to record a shot on goal, Marco Reus testing Timo Horn with a freekick. On the other end of the pitch, Anthony Modeste and Jhon Cordoba came close to score for Köln in the 26th minute.
In the 30th minute, Köln did get the lead. Dominick Drexler was left wide open after a corner and beat keeper Roman Bürki with a close-range diving header. Köln then almost doubled the lead ahead of the tea break after Bürki needlessly gave the ball away to Cordoba.
Instead, Dortmund went into the second half just one goal down. But Dortmund continued to struggle to break down Köln’s very well organised defence. It took Dortmund until the 63rd minute to produce a goalscoring opportunity, Timo Horn coming up big in a one-v-one situation to keep out Reus. At that point, Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre had brought on Julian Brandt for Julian Weigl, and it was Brandt’s ball that found Reus open in the box.
With Brandt on, Dortmund were now finally finding the spaces in the attacking third, and in the 70th minute, Jadon Sancho scored the equaliser. Köln granted the Englishman to much space inside the box following a short-corner and Sancho scored from just 15-yards out. Then in the 85th minute, Lukasz Piszczek found the space on the right to chip in the ball across the goalmouth exposing a wide-open Achraf Hakimi, and his header thundered right below the crossbar. Then in the 94th minute, Sancho broke forward and went one-v-one with Horn but instead of scoring spotted Paco Alcacer and the Spaniard tapped home the low pass to round up a hard-fought Dortmund victory.
Köln v Dortmund – Three Stars
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
The Englishman once again highlighted why all of the top four Premier League sides would like to add him. Sancho rescued Dortmund in the second half when he finally found that half-space after a short-corner scoring with a wonderfully curved ball from inside the box to make it 1-1. Sancho’s flank then was also involved ahead of the second goal as he created the space ahead of Piszczek’s cross and then assisted Paco Alcacer for Dortmund’s third goal.
Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund)
Julian Brandt changed the game when he came on in the second half. Replacing Weigl in the second half his introduction meant that Dortmund finally broke loose from the static double pivot role. Playing as a roaming attacking midfielder next to Witsel, Brandt opened up Köln on several occasions and was one of the key reasons Dortmund were able to break down the Billy Goats in the second half.
Dominik Drexler (1.FC Köln)
The attacking midfielder scored the opening goal and helped isolate Axel Witsel to the left flank. That second aspect was almost more important than his opening goal because it isolated Dortmund’s buildup play, which made it hard for the Black and Yellows to break down Köln’s defence in the first 70 minutes.
Köln v Dortmund – GOALS: 1-0 (Drexler 30’) 1-1 (Jadon Sancho, 70’) 1-2 (Achraf Hakimi, 85’), 1-3 (Paco Alcacer, 94′)
This was not an easy game for title contenders Borussia Dortmund. Köln did very well closing off both wings, forcing Dortmund into low scoring areas. Favre’s tactical setup aided Köln’s efforts.
The double-pivot of Witsel and Weigl meant that Dortmund were too predictable and it was not until Brandt came on that Dortmund managed to figure out Köln’s defensive setup.
Köln v Dortmund – Lineups
Horn – Hector, Czichos, Bornauw, Ehizibue – Shkiri, Verstraete – Drexler, Schindler (Kainz, 73′) – Modeste (Höger, 81′), Cordoba (Terodde, 55′)
Bürki – Schulz (Hakimi, 63′), Hummels, Akanji, Piszczek – Witsel, Weigl (Brandt, 63′) – Hazard (Bruun Larsen, 85′), Reus, Sancho – Paco Alcacer
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com 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. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.