Backing Borussia Dortmund to win the first game of the year is almost always a sure thing. BVB have now won at the start of the year 11 times since 2004, with a further five draws. Less expected until yesterday, however, was that games against Augsburg could be among the most eventful, something we learned thanks to a rally from behind and a super sub's hat-trick.
As the Borussen headed down the tunnel following the 5-3 spectacle in Augsburg, the relief was palpable. There were jokes, celebrations and laughter – but also discussions. This game was not easy to explain. Borussia Dortmund's performance in Augsburg was occasionally error-prone and erratic, but also sublime. By the end, there was elation.
Erling Haaland held the match ball tight in his arms. The Norwegian could not have dreamed of a better introduction to the Bundesliga. Not one to waste words ("It was a good debut, I'm happy!"), he did his talking on the pitch; only seven other players have previously scored a hat-trick on their debut. Coincidentally, one of those was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, also against Augsburg and also wearing the number 17.
Haaland made the difference in a match which saw Augsburg begin the game with a high press and a willingness to run themselves into the ground, and in which Borussia should have taken a two-goal lead early on. Instead, it was Augsburg who led 2-0 only 19 seconds into the second half, leaving Dortmund's coach to question his side's defensive work: "I don't want to talk about it. We need to analyse this. We can't always score five goals." He could not help but raise a smile about the result, however: "It was a crazy game."
Although Julian Brandt pulled one back on 49 minutes, Augsburg were quick to restore their two-goal lead, making it 3-1 only six minutes later. Many teams would have let their heads drop after such a setback, but this Dortmund side instead showcased the attacking potential they possess: following Haaland's introduction, Borussia had nine shots to Augsburg's one. Erling Haaland (3) and Jadon Sancho converted four of these nine chances to register Dortmund's most spectacular win in the Bundesliga this season. "Hats off", applauded Favre, "to score five goals, especially after such a deficit, shows that the team spirit is there. I'm really pleased!"
The Black & Yellows have scored 46 goals this season – 2.5 goals per game. This is only bettered by RB Leipzig (and Bayern Munich, provided they score against Hertha Berlin today). However, on the negative side, they have conceded 27 goals. Of the top nine teams in the table, only Hoffenheim have let in more. It is not difficult to guess what the focus of training will be in the coming weeks, to ensure a positive second half of the season. BVB are back in action this coming Friday, with a home game against 1. FC Cologne, after which 1. FC Union Berlin will be welcomed to Signal Iduna Park.