After 90 minutes, Borussia Dortmund were level with Sevilla and the ref blew the final whistle on what was a mediocre game all around. A goal apiece was about all the game was worth besides a lot of soft fouls, poor decision-making, and general meh-ness. Dortmund could have qualified for the Round of 16 this evening, but Edin Terzic and his side will have to wait to clinch a berth in the knockouts for at least another few weeks.
Here are some takeaways from the match.
Fatigue Takes Its Toll
The players were always going to be run a bit ragged in October and after a surging effort against Bayern Munich, the tanks were clearly running dry for Sevilla. Jude Bellingham has played (I think) every minute of the season, and the prodigious midfielder looked somewhat worn out. Don’t get me wrong, he still played an excellent match full of lung-bursting runs, but it seemed his edge was a bit dull. Özcan had a few sloppy challenges, Thomas Meunier pulled up with a cramp, it goes on.
With players beginning to return from injury, Edin Terzic will need to continue to get comfortable rotating. So far Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi have had a bit of preservation and Raphael Guerreiro earned 45 minutes of rest. Still, there are THREE more English weeks to come, and Dortmund cannot afford to take on a slew of injuries because of it. I do not know exactly what the answer is. Rotate more? Who, Thorgan Hazard?
Is a Change of System in Order?
Dortmund have looked toothless in attack; everyone knows this. Malen can’t find the back of the net much less the inside of the 18-yard box, Modeste, despite his weekend heroics, had another serviceless shift today, and Marco Reus continues to fight illness and injury. Dortmund managed two goals against Bayern Munich with two strikers up top, and maybe that’s something to look at. Yes, there were ten strikers in the box when Modeste equalized against Bayern, but Edin Terzic has had two months to see that his current system is yielding diminishing returns. Jude Bellingham has more goals in the UCL than Modeste, Malen, and Adeyemi combined, and with respect to his brilliance, that doesn’t speak well of the attackers. Malen and Adeyemi clearly want to be a part of the end product, not the build-up. Maybe it’s time to give these two a chance together, with Modeste, or with Moukoko, and see if that will help.
There is no guarantee that Sebastien Haller comes in and saves the day either if the system doesn’t function; Terzic needs to be proactive to find the goals in his team.
The Malen Problem
Another match, and not a goal or an assist to speak of for the Dutchman. Last season Malen looked poorly adjusted; this season, it’s hard to say what he looks like. Not lacking confidence exactly or motivation. Regardless, Malen’s decision-making has been poor, and his end product even poorer. Had he converted a single chance against FC Köln, Dortmund would be ahead of Bayern Munich in the league table. He was hooked for a toothless performance against the Bavarians, and similarly against Sevilla. Terzic has deployed Adeyemi and Malen as wingers, but in truth, they are playing as midfielders because our fullbacks are… let’s not get into it. Adeyemi seems to be taking to it alright, but both lads have the look of a player out of position. Malen is the beneficiary of the injury list because Terzic can scarcely afford to drop him, but when players like Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Marco Reus return, Terzic will not hesitate to pull an underperforming forward out of the team. That is unless Terzic can find a way to better incorporate Malen into the team, via tactics or positioning.
I have defended Malen a lot, mostly to my friends not necessarily on this site, but a year and two months into his time at BVB, it is time for the club and the player to take a hard look at compatibility. BVB shelled out a hefty sum for Malen, and right now they’re sitting on a depreciating asset. I desperately want Donny to succeed, but I want BVB to succeed more.