Three deserved points, a poor run of results ended and, moreover, the “English weeks” started with a burden shared on the shoulders of 16 players: In his 300th game in charge as a Bundesliga head coach, Lucien Favre got everything right on Saturday. His team is ready for a week of top games against Lazio Rom and Schalke 04.
Almost an hour had been played in the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim in a game between, up to that point, two evenly matched sides. At the start of the second half, Borussia Dortmund had started to take control of the game when Lucien Favre sent on his first two substitutes onto the pitch: With the game goalless, Marco Reus and Erling Haaland entered the fray with, up to that point, three good scoring chances for each side.
Together with Raphael Guerreiro, who came on ten minutes later, the substitutes turned the game in the right direction from Dortmund's point of view: the trio were involved in all six good scoring chances for BVB up to the final whistle - and of course in the winning goal, which Reus scored in the 76th minute. With their attacking pressing, Borussia had forced goalkeeper Baumann into a hurried clearance, and then everything happened at lightning speed: a Guerreiro header, a headed Reyna flick-on into the path of Haaland, who crossed to Reus in front of the onrushing Baumann.
Favre had carefully considered this line-up and the possible substitutions he would make. Both Haaland and Guerreiro had each played 67 hours earlier with Norway and Portugal respectively, in three international matches within seven days (Thursday, Saturday, Wednesday) had 282 and 250 minutes respectively in their legs. And Reus, after the Bundesliga game against Freiburg, "was unable to train for eight days and only started to training with the team on Tuesday".
So the Swiss coach devised a strategy that worked out perfectly. After four matches without a win under his tutelage against TSG Hoffenheim (two draws, two defeats), he finally managed three points against this opponent. It was Borussia Dortmund's first away win in Sinsheim since December 2012.
Even more importantly, it was already the third win with a clean sheet in only the fourth match of the season. For Favre this is a logical consequence of "everyone working together". Because: "If only eight or nine do that, that's not enough. We all have to defend together and we're not doing badly at the moment".
In two days’ time, we'll be back playing again. And probably there will be changes again in the Dortmund starting eleven. "I understand that and I am very, very fond of the fact that he always wants to play," Lucien Favre said on Saturday, for example, about Erling Haaland and added in general: "But we have to be reasonable. We must keep an eye on the start of our Champions League campaign. We want everyone to be fresh. That's tough."
In Rome, the coach wants to take advantage of the opportunities the squad offers him. "Up front I'm not worried. We have Haaland, Reus, Reyna, Sancho and Brandt." Added to that is Hazard, who is still injured at the moment. "We do have a slight problem in another position," he said, referring to the somewhat decimated defence, in which Schmelzer and Zagadou are missing injured, Akanji is in quarantine and Schulz is recovering from a muscle tear. Can will also be missing in Rome as he must serve a two game Champions League suspension after his sending off in the round of 16 match against PSG. There’s also a worry for Favre over Lukasz Piszczek, who had to be taken off early in Sinsheim. "We hope he can play again on Tuesday," said Sporting director Michael Zorc.