Borussia Dortmund have been in excellent form in the second round of fixtures this season, with ten wins from 12 matchdays. But given that Bayern Munich have put together an even better run of results (notching up 34 of a possible 36 points), the race for the title seems all but over, especially since the Bavarians came out on top in the meeting between the two sides last Tuesday. Nonetheless, after the 6-1 win away to Paderborn, Manuel Akanji remarked that ''it's still mathematically possible.''
After defeat to Bayern, the Black & Yellows' determination to bounce back and pick up as many points as possible in what remains of the season led to one of the most resounding road wins in club history: the 6-1 final score matches the BVB record for a win away from home. ''We want to win every game,'' stressed Akanji. There are still five matches to go before the end of the season: Borussia will host Hertha BSC, Mainz 05 and TSG Hoffenheim, with trips to Düsseldorf and then Leipzig, on the penultimate matchday, for a showdown with a direct rival for Champions League qualification. BVB will have at least a four-point lead over Leipzig going into the final five rounds of fixtures (Leipzig play Cologne away from home this evening).
Club record set to fall
After a much-improved performance after the break (Lucien Favre: ''We weren't great in the first half, but we weren't too bad either,'') the Black & Yellows ended the match with six goals to their account. This was the 14th time this season that BVB have scored three or more goals in a match. Never before in club history have 80 goals been scored after 29 matchdays. It seems almost certain that the club record for goals scored in a season (2015/16, 82 goals) will be broken.
Attacking flair hasn't come at the expense of defensive stability: 11 goals conceded in 12 matches is the third-best record in the league in the 2020. The tactical adjustment in November 2019 that shifted the team to a 3-4-3 (or 3-5-2) formation has clearly paid dividends: in the 16 Bundesliga matches since then, Lucien Favre's side have picked up 40 of a possible 48 points (13 wins, one draw, two defeats).
Paderborn shut down the middle, Borussia attack out wide
''We had two or three big chances in the first half that we unfortunately weren't able to make the most of,'' said Lucien Favre in his post-match interview on Sunday evening: ''But we stayed calm, kept on pushing, created our chances and scored our goals.''
A slight tactical shift tipped the balance of the match. ''We changed the system a bit,'' revealed Manuel Akanji, adding: ''We stopped playing through the middle so much and looked to find space out on the flanks.'' Roman Bürki also shared his insights: ''Paderborn head coach Steffen Baumgart had instructed his team 'to close down the middle of the park,' so we looked to threaten them out wide with our pace.'' A spirited Paderborn side tired as the game went on, and BVB were able to capitalise on the new-found space out wide. Favre: ''We wore Paderborn down. They weren't able to keep up with us in the second half.''
Sancho hits new highs and Schmelzer achieves career first
Jadon Sancho found the back of the net three times, and he is now the youngest player to score 30 goals in the Bundesliga and the first-ever BVB player to notch up 34 scorer points (17 goals, 17 assists) in a single season. Achraf Hakimi, Thorgan Hazard and Marcel Schmelzer were also on hand to apply the finishing touches to some excellent attacking play. ''He didn't play for long, but he was obviously delighted to get a goal and an assist,'' said Favre in reference to former club captain Schmelzer, who came on as a late substitute: ''Unfortunately he's suffered a lot of injuries in recent times, but now he's been back in training for the past three or four weeks.'' Schmelzer, at 32 years of age, achieved a new career milestone: never before in his 365 first-team appearances had the defender been involved in two goals in a single game.