BVB almost pay for negligence
Borussia Dortmund won fairly comfortable in Augsburg, apart from the last ten minutes. The three points come in handy before the international break, and with a win on Friday night BVB fans can enjoy the rest of the match-day without any worries.
- Report: Dortmund hold off late Augsburg flurry
An agreeable opponent
It was almost a game that didn't cost any nerves. BVB were well in control for about 70 minutes. Marco Reus put his side ahead after a nice one-two with Kevin Grosskreutz. Reus then sat up the second goal, as he provided the corner that was headed home by Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Dortmund exuded sheer dominance, as Augsburg hardly managed to combine beyond the halfway line. After 20 minutes it felt like a thrashing was on the rise, but BVB lifted the throttle with a cozy 2-0 lead and cruised towards halftime without major issues.
Manager Jurgen Klopp dropped Matthias Ginter for Neven Subotic in defense. "Football is not like riding a bike. It has to be re-learned every time you don't play it for a while. The players just have to get the feeling for spaces back, which needs time. This is why Neven Subotic starts, as he and Sokratis are more used to each other and routines might come a bit easier."
The Dortmund coach was right, as his defense hardly got tested. Papastathopoulos and Subotic both did a tidy job in defense, as they easily cleared many a fruitless Augsburg hoof up the pitch.
FC Augsburg just looked an agreeable opponent, as they were too tame to really have a go at the black and yellows. Dortmund's pressing worked well and forced a lot of turnovers. Augsburg had more possession throughout the game, but mostly deep in their own territory, just as Klopp likes to see it.
Eventually, it was Augsburg's left back Abdul Rahman Baba who lost the oversight and played a ball right into feet of the black and yellows. A few seconds later Marco Reus calmly finished off Dortmund's first chance. A welcomed confidence boost for the long-injured Reus, who is still not at 100%, but this game will help him to get back to form.
After Papastathopoulos' goal made it 2-0 in the 15th minute, Augsburg's spirit was more or less broken. There was not much fight in them to come back, as their belief to do it was clearly lacking -- just like Dortmund's lack of a killer instinct. There isn't much to criticise about this game out of a BVB perspective, except for not killing the tie off once and for all earlier. Opportunities had been plenty, but the players felt a bit too comfortable on the pitch to just finish the match off.
A few times too often Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Reus tried the spectacular instead of going for the cleverer -- and more promising -- layoff.
But when the newly subbed in Adrian Ramos scored his first Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund in the 79th minute, the game seemed over: 3-0 up with nearly 10 minutes to go. What could possibly go wrong?
It might be only human that concentration rates drop when owning a comfortable lead, but Raul Bobadilla's goal for Augsburg just four minutes later should have been a final wake-up call.
Football wouldn't be football, if after 70 minutes of utter domination and a healthy lead, everything couldn't be turned on its head.
When Tim Matavz scored to make it 3-2 in the 89th minute, expressions like "typical" or "here we go again" might have been mourned towards the television in any given BVB pub.
But luckily for Dortmund, Augsburg failed to create a final chance to really jeopardize the win. Still, it showed that BVB might not be ready to be fully concentrated for an entire match. Thankfully, it was 'only' Augsburg and the negligence went unpunished.
Search for stability
It may have come as a surprise to some to not see Ciro Immobile in the starting line-up. This season's top signing was left out of Klopp's first eleven and Aubameyang played as lone striker instead. Grosskreutz rotated into the side for the Italian, as Klopp said he is looking for stability in his team. "We have to find stability first in order to implement Ciro. We must find ways to create danger, that Immobile can take advantage of, before we think about anything else." An interesting view by the Dortmund coach, which shows that he is more concerned about his team adapting to last season's Serie A top-scorer than vice-versa.
Even with many injuries, it is good to know that Klopp has enough depth at his disposal to afford the luxury to be patient with a 20 million euro signing.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.