Borussia Dortmund have started off 2022 with maximum points, beating Sportclub Freiburg 5-1 (3-0) on home turf on Bundesliga Matchday 19 to claim their second victory in the space of six days. Thomas Meunier and Erling Haaland both bagged braces for the Black & Yellows, before Mo Dahoud rounded off the scoring.
Boris Rupert reporting
The 750 spectators permitted to attend saw Thomas Meunier open the scoring with two headers from Brandt corners (16, 29), before Erling Haaland added another (45+1) to give a swashbuckling and totally dominant BVB a deserved 3-0 lead at the interval. Ermedin Demirovic took advantage of Freiburg's first chance to pull a goal back for the visitors as the hour mark approached, but their hopes of a fightback were short-lived. Haaland scored once again to make the score 4-1 with a quarter of an hour to go, with Mo Dahoud then completing the scoring in the 86th minute.
The Black & Yellows were on a 13-match unbeaten home run against the Black Forest club in the Bundesliga – their longest streak against any opponent – and had taken 37 out of a possible 39 points during that time. BVB were second and were the only team in addition to Bayern Munich to have a double-digit number in the win column (12), while Freiburg were fourth with the second-best points tally after 18 matches in their history (30 points).
Morey and Schmelzer were both ruled out by injury, while Reyna and Zagadou were lacking match fitness. Akanji was deemed ready for a place among the substitutes. It was the first time this season that the same BVB XI has started in two consecutive match weeks.
BVB started – as they did in Frankfurt – in a 4-3-3 formation with Dahoud as a lone defensive midfielder and the duo of Brandt and Bellingham positioned slightly further forward on each side. Reus did not stick to his position as a wing-forward on the right and repeatedly drifted inside, leaving space for marauding right-back Meunier to push forward into. As a result, Borussia consistently had a four-man line of attack when in possession. Freiburg lined up in a compact 4-5-1 system off the ball, with only Höler staying further up-field. When they had the ball, the visitors switched to a 4-2-3-1 in which the attacking midfield trio shifted over to the right, allowing full-back Günter to push forward as an additional midfielder.
The match & analysis:
Borussia were proactive, Freiburg reactive. The opening 45 minutes took place almost exclusively in the Freiburg half. A highly focused BVB completed 90% of their passes and dominated with 70% possession. They were unable to translate that superiority into real goalscoring opportunities from open play until the 32nd minute, but made up for that by taking an early – and deserved – 1-0 lead via a set-piece. Brandt's 16th minute corner was met by Meunier, who headed the ball into the far corner from the near post. It was the Belgian's first goal in exactly 363 days, but he followed it up with another one 13 minutes later to register his first brace in a BVB shirt. Again it was a Brandt corner – this time from the right – that teed the full-back up for another header.
The first-half lead could have been increased sooner than it was. Dahoud narrowly missed out on a third with a shot from 15 metres out (32), before Uphoff spilled a Guerreiro free-kick and had his blushes spared by a defender who cleared behind for a corner with Haaland lurking.
It was a truly convincing performance. Borussia had the game completely in control, giving nothing away at the back and taking in a 3-0 lead at the break thanks to a stoppage-time goal. Dahoud dispossessed Höler in the centre-circle, Bellingham stepped on the gas and fed Haaland, who surged through in his imitable fashion and steered the ball past the goalkeeper.
The Black & Yellows brought on Akanji in place of Can, who had received treatment for a groin issue midway through the first half. Their next opportunity in front of goal came in the 53rd minute when Malen's strike took a minor deflection and grazed the outside of the Freiburg post. In a game that stood out for the spirit of fairness in which it was contested, the visitors surprisingly reduced the deficit to 3-1 with their first shot. Schade, a half-time substitute, was afforded too much space in midfield and fed Sallai. While Kobel got a hand to his strike, he could not hold onto it and fellow substitute Demirovic slotted home the follow-up (66).
Schulz and Hazard replaced Guerreiro and Reus in a double switch with 20 minutes to go. Meunier then sustained an injury, briefly leaving BVB a man down. Kobel made a decisive intervention to deny Schade (74) – and within seconds the ball was in the net at the other end. Dahoud brilliantly dispossessed Weißhaupt and played in Haaland, who went clean through and re-established 10-man BVB's three-goal lead with a shot through the goalie's legs (75). The game was over as a contest by that point, but there was still more to come. Malen set Schulz in motion down the left flank and the full-back cleverly cut the ball back to Dahoud, who struck high into the net to round off the 5-1 victory (86).
Up next is the first "English week" of 2022: BVB will first take on Bundesliga 2 leaders FC St. Pauli in the DFB-Pokal last 16 on Tuesday, before travelling to third-placed TSG Hoffenheim for their next big Bundesliga clash next Saturday.