Friday, February 3, 2023

Match Review: Borussia Dortmund Edge Past Sporting, Find Out Which Youngster Impressed The Most

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

Borussia Dortmund retain their place in top spot in Group F after edging past Sporting 2:1. Two brilliant first half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Julian Weigl were enough for the visiting side as Bruno Cesar’s smash proved nothing more than a consolation in the second half.

Lineups

The series of injuries that Thomas Tuchel’s side suffered was always a worry from the start. However, Sokratis, who was not expected to feature, passed the medical test to give Tuchel a huge boost. He started alongside Marc Bartra as the centre back pairing ahead of Roman Burki in goal. The injury to Marcel Schmelzer meant youngster Felix Passlack needed to start as a left back while Matthias Ginter was deployed as a right back.

Julian Weigl as single pivot in defensive midfield was deployed with Mario Gotze and Shinji Kagawa in slight advanced positions. Teenagers Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic slotted in as wingers, feeding the lone striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The game started with decent intensity. Sporting’s 4-4-2 block offered them flexibility in larger parts of the game. The two forwards upfront, Bas Dost and Lazar Markovic was opted to stop the flow from the back while defensive midfielder Willian Carvalho stuck close to Julian Weigl and the other midfielder Elias, took charge of the quick movements from Shinji Kagawa on numerous occasions in the first stages of the game.

However, the lack of pressing or rather, a low quality pressing from the two forwards, proved fruitless as Sporting were clearly struggling to prevent Marc Bartra’s incursion from defense to find a pass or to disfigure the high composure of Julian Weigl. The wingers did manage a good pressing scheme however, using their cover shadows well to prevent the wingers of the opposite side coming into play.

Tuchel’s success as a Dortmund coach, was largely down to his system of switching the play. They did last with fun last season with players like Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan in the team but have clearly failed to circulate the ball in the same manner this season. Against Sporting however, Dortmund were seeming to have no pressure in their vertical passing with Dortmun attempted 29(!) long passes against Jorge Jesus’ side.

If Dortmund find it easy to switch the ball to the other half, that usually signals their dominance on the pitch and that is exactly what they did.

Mario Gotze was one of the players impressed last night. The former Bayern man created two chances, took three shots and more importantly, managed three interceptions, which is enough to prove his work ethic. Gotze was the one who was able retain the ball in midfield and then feed Aubameyang, whose pace got the better of Ruben Semedo, before coolly chipping the ball past Rui Patricio.

Dortmund's midfielder Julian Weigl celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League football match Sporting CP vs BVB Borussia Dortmund at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on October 18, 2016. / AFP / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Dortmund’s midfielder Julian Weigl celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League football match Sporting CP vs BVB Borussia Dortmund at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on October 18, 2016. / AFP / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Julian Weigl was arguably the best player on the night. The 21 year midfielder once again stood as a hub in Dortmund’s midfield and his excellent performance was rewarded with his first senior goal. After getting onto the loose ball in ‘zone 14’, Weigl showed some neat footwork to ride past few challengers, before slotting it accurately into a bottom corner. Some way to open your senior account!

The second half was tight and Dortmund’s defense suddenly started to look more fragile. A couple of individual mistakes saw Sporting attackers bearing down their neck. Eventually, it got the better of Marc Bartra, whose pass back to goalkeeper Roman Burki was deemed as a backpass and Sporting were awarded a freekick inside Dortmund’s penalty area. Substitute Bruno Cesar’s smashing hit evaded almost the entire Dortmund team before bulging the net to put Sporting back in the game.

From then on, however, Sporting were never able to capitalize. Stoppage on regular intervals put the sting out of the situation and Dortmund began to eat up time. Young talent Gelson Martins was a lively figure for the entire ninety minutes but was completely owned by another young player, Felix Passlack. Indeed! Six of his eight attempted take-ons failed and Passlack managed an impressive nine tackles!

In the end, Dortmund somehow were able to cling onto to their slender lead but considering the Black and Yellows’ domination in the first half in spite of their ever-growing injury problems, one would suggest that Dortmund players do deserve the all three points.

After three match-days, Dortmund are unsurprisingly second in Group F behind defending champs Real Madrid, who also thumped Polish champions Legia 5:1 at the Bernabeu.

 

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