Again, it was more battling than brilliant: Borussia Dortmund worked for their 3-1 win in Freiburg, running almost three kilometres more than their opponents in the second half. They had the proverbial fortune that favours the brave to get the equaliser and, thanks to a fast and furious final phase with three goals in eleven minutes, turned a game against Freiburg for the seventh time in total.
"We had to fight to avoid conceding the second goal before and shortly after half-time," said Edin Terzic after the intense game, in which he and his coaching team intervened with tactical changes. At first, they looked to force Freiburg into playing long balls, "but we didn't defend them well either." After the break, the opposition initially extended their dominance to 6-2 shots on goal, but had no answer to a change of system from BVB on 76 minutes. Setting up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Bellingham as a central defensive midfielder, Brandt behind the two strikers in Modeste and Moukoko and Bynoe-Gittens and Reus operating in the space in between the attacking and defensive midfielders, BVB were emboldened by the euphoria that came with the equaliser and it gave them an extra spring in their step.
"We got three goals from substitutes and showed how good this squad is," said Terzic. Not only did the goals come from subs in Bynoe-Gittens, Moukoko and Wolf – they were also responsible for the assists, with Moukoko bagging a brace of assists either side of Brandt's assist for the goal to give BVB the lead at 2-1. The youngster was therefore involved in all three goals and made a real statement on the pitch. "We needed a bit of luck. After Jamie made it 1-1, we were really in the game. I always had the feeling that we could turn the game around," said the 17-year-old, who had been in the starting line-up against Leverkusen, but had to make way for Tony Modeste in Freiburg.
"The strength of a team is not demonstrated by the eleven players who start," head coach Edin Terzic stressed: "We are very pleased that Youssoufa was involved in the three goals. He put in a lot of work against Leverkusen and even though he didn't get the reward of being on the scoresheet, he was involved in the goal with an assist. We are very happy with the squad. We were unable to send on a couple of guys in Freiburg that we needed last week to get over the line at 1-0 against Leverkusen."
On Friday night, it was not about defending a narrow lead, but turning around a deficit. The decisive factor on the day was Jamie Bynoe-Gittens. Four days after his 18th birthday, he scored the equaliser, thanks in no small part by an error from the otherwise good Freiburg keeper Flekken, and was also involved in the build up to Moukoko's goal to make it 2-1. "Jamie has the ability to win matches. I didn't just want him to play the game, I wanted him to make the difference," said Terzic. With fresh legs off the bench, he had been able to completely change the shape of the game.
After the victories against Champions League and Europa League sides Leverkusen and Freiburg, next up they face teams that were playing for promotion (Werder Bremen) and to avoid relegation (Hertha Berlin) last season, and things won't get any easier. But the team and the coach know: they can successfully defend tight leads and turn games around after going behind. They have the right men to tackle any task. What's more, Niklas Süle, Karim Adeyemi or Giovanni Reyna could all be back to full fitness by then. Salih Özcan took his place on the bench in Freiburg for the first time.