Marco Reus turns in 7/10 performance as Borussia Dortmund fight back for win vs. Leipzig
DORTMUND, Germany -- Newly appointed manager Lucien Favre said many times in recent days that he still needs to learn how his players behave in various situations. After 30 seconds of Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga opener against RB Leipzig on Sunday, he learned about how they behave while trailing, as Jean-Kevin Augustin slotted home for the guests. The 60-year-old saw a team that grew stronger throughout the game, as the Black and Yellows ultimately took home all three points beating Leipzig 4-1, claiming the top of the league.
BVB took 20 minutes to respond to the Red Bulls' early lead. Mahmoud Dahoud scored his very first goal for the club with an unlikely fadeaway header off a Marcel Schmelzer cross. In the five minutes before half-time, the hosts struck twice to claim a two-goal lead. First, Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer headed a Marco Reus free kick into his own net in the 40th minute, and then two minutes later Thomas Delaney's bullet header off a Christian Pulisic corner was parried but Axel Witsel scored on the rebound with an impressive scissor kick.
The match petered out throughout the entirety of the second half, only for Reus to lay the ball in the far corner of the net in stoppage time for the cherry on top.
After a scare just half a minute into the season, the Westphalians recovered well against what looks to be fierce competition for the Champions League spots. Over 90 minutes they were the deserved winners, which cannot be taken for granted against a side that already had the match rhythm of six competitive fixtures.
The first matchday is not the time for overreactions, however, it is worrisome for Mario Gotze that he was benched for the first league fixture. After the preseason, he is far from an automatic starter under Favre and given his age, experience, skill and, especially, wages, the 26-year-old should have a more dominant role. The same can be said for Shinji Kagawa, who did not make the matchday squad.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Indeed, Favre still has a lot of work ahead of him. His team looked uncomfortable against Leipzig's early pressing. Though Dortmund's cohesion was a helpful factor in turning around the match.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 8 -- A very strong start to the season from Burki, who pulled off two incredible saves, saving a crucial one-on-one against Augustin in the first half and punching away a missile released by Lukas Klostermann after the break.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 3 -- Schwatzgelb.de writer Maurice Morth asked the question how things can work out with the Polish right-back throughout an entire season. A more than valid question as the 33-year-old looked dramatically off the pace, even neglecting a clean tactical positional play in possession due to his lacking work rate.
DF Manuel Akanji, 6 -- The Swiss international looked calm and composed throughout 90 minutes.
DF Abdou Diallo, 4 -- The new arrival looked nervous early on. His questionable involvement in Leipzig's first goal didn't help the matter.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 7 -- The left-back was very much involved in BVB's attack with overlapping runs, assisting Dahoud after 20 minutes. After 45 minutes, he also led his team with seven defensive actions.
MF Thomas Delaney, 5 -- Looked out of sorts, especially in the opening 20 minutes, when not many moves on the ball came off for him. Regained some much-needed composure in the second half.
MF Axel Witsel, 7 -- The 29-year-old Belgium international must think that first impressions last. After scoring a vital equaliser in the German Cup on Monday, he entered his name on the score sheet once again. More importantly, the midfielder with the flashy haircut had an imposing presence in midfield, exuding calmness on the ball.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 6 -- In the trio of Dortmund's central midfielders, the 22-year-old was in charge of the creative department. His detractors will point to his penchant for holding on to the ball too long, his apologists will praise the silky turns on the ball and clever flicks -- and his superbly headed goal.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 -- The 19-year-old U.S. international was never far away when Dortmund were dangerous. He got his direct opponent Marcelo Saracchi booked early on in the first half after cleverly drawing several fouls.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 5 -- Philipp had the thankless job of leading the line against skyscrapers Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate. It might be down to Favre's scheme that he did not get at the end of any shots in 68 minutes on the pitch.
FW Marco Reus, 7 -- Stadium announcer "Nobby" Dickel let the stadium prematurely know that Reus had scored his 100th league goal, but his free kick will be marked down as Sabitzer's own goal. In stoppage time, however, Reus finished off the final counter-attack of the game for his century.
MF Marius Wolf, 4 -- Did not get many chances to show off during a 22-minute cameo on his Dortmund debut, as his teammates were comfortable in sitting back while most attacks in the final quarter of the game went through the right side, while Wolf was playing left.
MF Jadon Sancho, NR -- Was used as the obligatory super-sub on the right side for Pulisic and could provide a magic touch for assisting Reus in stoppage time.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, NR -- Replaced Schmelzer in the 87th minute, who was seen off with a standing ovation. Guerreiro helped to shepherd it home.